LOS ANGELES (AP) — The film academy is naming its main museum building in honor of Cheryl and Haim Saban, who have donated $50 million to the project.
The historic May Company building on Wilshire Boulevard’s Miracle Mile will now be known as the Saban Building, officials from the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures said Wednesday.
Walt Disney Company chief Bob Iger, who is leading the museum’s fundraising campaign, called the Sabans’ donation “magnificent and transformative,” adding that it brings the project within $100 million of its $388 million goal.
Haim Saban is the founder and chairman of Saban Capital Group, a private investment firm specializing in entertainment and media. The Sabans are active philanthropists, with a research wing at Children’s Hospital and a theater in Beverly Hills, California, bearing their name.
Iger and the Sabans were among the dignitaries appearing Wednesday at a press preview of the museum’s construction site. They were joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer, who was tapped to head the museum’s board of directors, and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, who serves as chair of the Academy Museum Committee.
“We’re all kind of incredulous that this could be a company town and we don’t have a motion picture museum,” Kennedy said. “We should have the world’s most pre-eminent motion picture museum, and now we have the opportunity to have that.”
Set to open in 2019, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will celebrate the history and art of film. The 300,000-square-foot facility will house two movie theaters and four floors of exhibition space, along with a massive outdoor piazza and rooftop terrace that offers views of the Hollywood sign. The museum will feature artifacts from the film academy’s vast archives, temporary and permanent exhibits, screenings and lectures, and an “Oscars Experience” that allows visitors to walk a red carpet, accept an Oscar and thank the academy.
Architect Renzo Piano designed the new complex, comprising the restoration of the former May Company building and a newly built dome-like structure that will house a 1,000-seat theater and outdoor terrace.
Garcetti said the city “neglected this industry for too long,” and the new museum is a celebration of its history and contributors.
“When young people or tourists from around the world step off a plane of a school bus and walk into the bones of this old building reborn and this new building imagined,” he said, “…We will know that we are telling our own human stories and connecting a new generation of dreamers to the idea that they, too, can give voice to their fears and their hopes and their aspirations and to the very best of humanity.”
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .