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LA film museum that first ignored Jews will hold exhibit on Hollywood’s Jewish founders

The American film industry “is at its heart an immigrant story,” per the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Aerial shot of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Credit: Courtesy of Academy Museum Foundation.
Aerial shot of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Credit: Courtesy of Academy Museum Foundation.

When the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures opened in Los Angeles in September 2021, it drew criticism for failing to feature Jews, who have played essential roles in developing the film industry in Hollywood.

“I would’ve hoped that any honest historical assessment of the motion picture industry—its origins, its development, its growth—would include the role that Jews played in building the industry from the ground up,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, told Rolling Stone

“As I walked through, I literally turned to the person I was there with and said to him, ‘Where are the Jews?’ The omission was glaring,” he added.

On May 19, the museum plans to open the exhibit “Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital,” which “traces the history of filmmaking in Los Angeles back to its roots at the beginning of the 20th century, illustrating how and why the city became a global epicenter of cinema.”

It will further spotlight “the Jewish founders of the Hollywood studio system, foregrounding the ways in which the birth of the American film industry—and the depiction of the American Dream—is at its heart an immigrant story,” per the museum website.

The museum claimed that it always intended to have a temporary exhibit about Jewish contributions to Hollywood, but after the initial backlash, it opted to create a permanent gallery on the subject and “consulted rabbis and Jewish scholars on what should be included,” the New York Times reported.

“We learned,” Bill Kramer, a former director of the museum, told the Times. “We took a lot of the information from the conversations that we’ve had and grew from that.”

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