Homeless Moscow Cinema Museum
A group of people who call themselves "Friends of the Cinema Museum" organized a picket in front of the premises of the Russian Union of Cinematographers.
The Moscow Cinema Museum, whose unique collection comprises over 40,000 exhibits and which is well-known for regularly showing contemporary intellectual and rare old movies, is in acute danger of becoming homeless. It has been announced that the museum`s archives and halls in the center of Moscow are going to be replaced with something more commercially beneficial.
The majority of those who took to the streets to protect the Tenth Muse property were students of Moscow universities. "Museums are not for sale!" was their slogan. "We believe that no `practical` reasons are enough to eliminate the biggest film collection in Russia," says one of the strikers, Ivan Nesterov. Other Muscovites probably have no hope left to change the situation, as this is not the first attempt at defending the collection. The conflict has been developing for more than a year. Cinema celebrities like Jean-Luc Godard, Bernardo Bertolucci and Quentin Tarantino crusaded against destroying the museum, while officials of different ranks promised many times to solve the problem. Nothing has helped though to change the situation for the better.
The complicated and controversial story of the Moscow Cinema Museum started almost a hundred years ago, when the first specialized cinema museum was created under the auspices of the State Academy of Artistic Sciences (GAKhN). The GAKhN was later disbanded and the priceless materials (first cinema cameras, scripts, sketches and posters) were partially dispersed and partially lost.
A new public cinema exhibition was founded only a dozen and a half years ago. The collection was granted the official status of a state museum as its founders were the State Ministry of Culture, the Committee for Cinematography and the Russian Union of Cinematographers. Today`s unexpected danger, however, appeared despite and partially because of the impressive status. The Russian Union of Cinematographers simply sold its shares of the museum to Kinocenter, Moscow`s major movie theatre complex, in whose premises the Cinema Museum is currently located. Since Kinocenter is a commercial enterprise (besides cinema halls the building houses a number of restaurants and a casino), preserving history is not its priority. The Cinema Museum has been officially proposed to free the "occupied space" by January, so since the beginning of the new year it will become homeless.
The unique archives and collections have been already packed and are waiting for a final sentence. There is hope that this time they won`t be lost: the Mosfilm cinema concern has promised to provide temporary refuge to the museum`s homeless possessions. Nobody guarantees, however, that the films won`t end lying uselessly on dusty shelves.