Edward Hopper. New York Movie. 1939 19

Oil on canvas, 32 1/4 x 40 1/8" (81.9 x 101.9 cm). Given anonymously

Narrator: In the 1930s, going to the movies was a big deal. You’d dress up in your best clothes and sit in big velvet seats like the ones you see here. There might be a real musician playing on a big organ at the front before the movie began. When you arrived, a person called an usher would help you find your seat. Like the lady standing there on the right, wearing a uniform. And then … the fancy curtain would open, and the movie would begin.

But look at that usher. Does she look like she’s interested in the movie? She’s probably seen and heard it so many times, she’s just lost in her own thoughts. Look at her face and how she’s standing. What is she thinking about?

She may not be watching, but everyone else is. Can you make out what’s on the movie screen? It’s a little hard to tell because we can’t see too much but we can tell it was black and white – like all movies back then. But then, a magical thing happened in 1939, the same year this painting was made.

A movie called The Wizard of Oz came out – in color. Maybe you’ve seen it. Imagine how it must have felt to watch Dorothy open her door into the Land of Oz, and see a screen full of bright colors for the very first time!