The purpose of my trip was to examine how different museums incorporate media into their galleries and exhibitions. Using my knowledge of MoMA’s film exhibitions and my background in media preservation, I wanted to study how museums used their archival holdings. MoMA pulls from its film archives regularly for ongoing exhibitions like Charles Silver’s An Auteurist History of Film and for shorter exhibitions like the upcoming Carte Blanche: MK2, organized by Dave Kehr and Sophie Cavoulacos. The film department also showcases films from the collection in the A View from the Vaults exhibition series, which highlights recent acquisitions and studio films.
While MoMA is in the business of acquiring films, the Newseum actively produces them. All of the content that streams to their 15 theaters is produced in-house (excepting their 4-D films) using their state-of-the-art production facilities. These regularly rotate out and are often tailored to certain exhibitions. The Newseum maintains a substantial archive of its in-house content, but from what I could tell whole films are not repurposed and re-displayed, though the editors may pull footage for use in new content.
Another interesting difference is the act of experiencing the films at the Newseum. MoMA primarily uses a traditional darkened theater setting to showcase films. The Newseum uses a variety of different methods to showcase its productions, from the traditional to the innovative. Several of the theaters are interspersed throughout the galleries or tucked away, turning them into hidden gems. The films run on a loop and can be experienced by the viewer as a whole or in short sections.
Getting the Big Picture is a film, updated every two years, projected along a 100-foot wall. Five separate clips are merged into one large viewing experience. Stadium seating is in front, but viewers can also walk along the wall into the next gallery.
The orientation films are showcased in a more traditional theater, but these, too, are on a loop and viewers can partake in as much of the film as they want. The only corollary to MoMA’s primary viewing experiences was the film I Witness: A 4-D Time Travel Adventure. Viewers are taken back to different eras and given general overviews of journalists like Edward R. Murrow and Nellie Bly. The fourth dimension here is movement: your seats are rocked as shells bomb London, and cold gusts of air blow as you follow Nellie Bly through an insane asylum. Though only 13 minutes in length, it is a powerful experience—and markedly different from what we do here at MoMA.