Museum of the Moving Image: Lights, Camera, Queens!

Museum of the Moving Image

Museum of the Moving Image

Once upon a time, long before Los Angeles became the capital of the entertainment industry. Long before Hollywood was a big movie-making, money making juggernaut.   Long before LA was synonymous with paparazzi, Kardashians, and country clubs.  There was a time when the motion picture industry was in its infancy, and was fast on its way to becoming a  growing enterprise.  3,000 miles away from what would one day become “The 10”, the  movies got their start in New York City.  From the first silent cartoon, to some of the earliest televised game shows, to the earliest years of public television, New York was where American film and television got its start.

The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens allows visitors to step back in time and take a trip through the history of film, television, and radio, of which is told through the medium of American sub-cultures and the entertainment industry.  The Museum of the Moving Image exists to expand public understanding and appreciation of the art, history, technique and technology of film, television, and digital media by collecting, preserving, and providing access to moving-image related artifacts via multimedia exhibitions and educational programming.  This media museum originally opened in 1988 as the American Museum of the Moving Image.  It is located in a former building of what is now the Kaufman Astoria Studios where hundreds of television shows have been filmed, including the children’s television juggernaut, Sesame Street.  So if anyone asks “how do you get to Sesame Street?” you tell them, “The N or R train!”

Once Inside, you are greeted with a white, sterile lobby; a front for what lies beyond on each floor.  On the first floor, however, you’ll find a small theatre where all shows are projected onto a big, white wall.  A staircase leads up into a hole in the ceiling; it has the odd appearance of a flight of giant attic stairs that someone pulled down.

If you are pop culture junkie (and I’ll bet you are!), you will just love the artifacts inside.  Ever wanted to see how the evolution of the television and the VCR has changed over time?  How about the design of the modern movie camera?  It’s all here, and many of the items are all from former studios that once called NYC home like Reeves Teletape (where Sesame Street and CBS’s Kate and Allie once filmed at (you probably know the name from the Reeves Entertainment Logo logo shown at the end of various old programs)) Unitel Studios in Manhattan, and old props from Kaufman Astoria Studios.

For the hardcore fan, you’ll find…

  • Eddie Murphy’s sweater from 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop
  • Mork from Ork’s (Robin Williams) red spacesuit from Mork and Mindy (1978-1982)
  • The mohawk wig and bald cap worn by Robert De Niro in 1976’s Taxi Driver
  • The prosthetic head of a possessed Linda Blair from 1973’s The Exorcist
  • The actual razor blade glove worn by Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) in 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street.
  • The prosthetic face mask worn by Robin Williams in 1993’s Mrs. Doubtfire


Every few months, the MOTMI showcases a variety of temporary exhibits that cover a wide range of themes.  From 2012 to 2013, the MOTMI held an exhibition on DreamWorks Rise of the Guardians.  The exhibit included hand drawn character reference sheets, pencil tests, physical props, story boards, behind the scenes images, and colorful portraits that show the film from its idea on paper to its 3D computerized debut.  Although the museum does showcase various films from DreamWorks Animation, this one was particularly my favorite.  After all, when you’re favorite team is the South Sydney Rabbitohs, an animated film that features an affable, kick-ass Australian bunny is an obvious choice!  Frankly, I wish the museum kept this exhibit up longer.  Or at least allow me the chance to purchase one of the amazing portraits or sketches of Bunnymund.

The Art of Rise of the Guardians

The Art of Rise of the Guardians

"ROTG: Legends Unite!"

“ROTG: Legends Unite!”

Gallery of the Guardians

Gallery of the Guardians

"Guardians, Immortalized"

“Guardians, Immortalized”

Another amazing exhibit was the piece on the history of video games.  You heard me!  The history of video games!  Still think museums are boring?  One visit to this exhibit, and you will feel like you stepped into a time warp and you’ve landed at an arcade inside a shopping mall in LA in 1983!  You’ll feel like you are on the set of Nick Arcade.  Before you, stands a treasure trove of classic arcade games that range from the primitive paddle game, Pong, all the way up to the revolutionary 4-player fantasy game, Gauntlet.  Once more, you can even test your game savvy with most of these colorful cabinets!  But not with a quarter, but with a good old-fashion arcade token!  Step up and as you summon both your courage and your inner-child as you battle Space Invaders, Defender, Battlezone, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Ms. Pac Man, and Asteroids.  As I played my way through this time warp nirvana, I can safely say that this beats Xbox any day of the week!  You heard me, gamers and stoners!  Call me when they make Call of Duty: Pixelated!

A Trip Through the History of Video Games!

A Trip Through the History of Video Games!


"In the beginning, there was Pong..."

“In the beginning, there was Pong…”

"Before Xbox. PlayStation, Sega, Nintendo, and Atari...  There was Odyssey!"

“Before Xbox. PlayStation, Sega, Nintendo, and Atari… There was Odyssey!”


36-01 35th Avenue (at 37th Street)
Astoria, NY 11106


About admin

I am a graduate of Stony Brook University, and I have a degree in History. I am an avid traveler, with an extensive knowledge of geography, a passion for photography, and a knowledge of animals too. I enjoy pop music of the 1980's, fine dining, movies, baseball, basketball, and rugby.
This entry was posted in New York, New York City, North America, Queens, United States of America, What to See in Queens and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Museum of the Moving Image: Lights, Camera, Queens!

  1. Alisoun Brewster says:

    Jared, this looks awesome! When were you there? Again, will tell Mere about it! Also, Lando and Jenny would love this, right? I love your blog! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful insights!! XO

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *