In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_y6dpvzigsnvvskcmoqjamctbogg

Planes: Fire & Rescue

"Planes: Fire & Rescue" won’t ever be mistaken for a classic, especially not with its happy ending that exists primarily for the benefit of future…

Thumb_5omusvdwvy5duis2jrck22aecnq

Mood Indigo

Even if you have a high tolerance for whimsy, "Mood Indigo" may still be too much.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

MoMA: Images on ice

xan1.jpg

Lost treasures of Xanadu -- in a Pennsylvania warehouse?

For five years now, one of the great film resources in America has been unjustly imprisoned, boxed up and sitting in the corridors of a film storage facility in Hamlin, Pennsylvania. It's a scandal, a tragedy, and an enormous disservice to film scholarship. In a recent e-mail, Mary Corliss, creator and curator of the Film Stills Archive at the Museum of Modern Art, the source of images for countless film-related books and publications (Corliss is also the stills editor for both Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" books), brings us up to date on the struggle to make this invaluable treasure accessible again:

I have been remiss in sharing the final chapter of the [National Labor Relations Board] vs. MoMA saga with all of you who supported me and Terry Geesken after our abrupt lay-offs and the closing of the Film Stills Archive in January 2002. This September, I received a document signed by the three Republicans appointed to the Washington office of the NLRB. (The Democratic minority on the panel was not represented). In their ruling, they not only fully agreed with MoMA's arguments; they reversed those points that the judge in the NLRB trial had decided in our favor.

Essentially, they found MoMA's decision to close the Film Stills Archive to be solely the result of the Museum’s need to reduce services and spaces during its $850 million expansion, and not a personal retaliation for our union activities. That verdict represents the end of the legal battle.

But the struggle to keep the Stills Archive alive does not, cannot end there. Since MoMA argued that the Archive was closed for temporary lack of space, it follows that, when even more space was made available, the Archive would reopen. That was Terry’s and my understanding when we took a low severence in order to have recall rights to our jobs of 34 and 18 years, respectively, returning when the Archive reopened. In other words, the future of the Archive bore no relevance to the disposition of the NLRB case.

The renovation of the main Museum was completed two years ago, and this week MoMA unveiled its 63,000 sq. ft. Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building. Surprise, surprise: the Film Stills Archive is not a part of it. There are no plans I know of to set aside, in any of its spaces, the 2500 sq. ft that the Archive requires--not in the renovated Museum, nor the new education center, nor the Museum's building in Queens.

It is nearly five years since MoMA made the collection inaccessible to scholars, historians, authors and journalists. Those 4 million-plus stills, documenting the visual history of world cinema, continue to remain in cold storage in Pennsylvania [in a facility called the Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center], untended and unused. Unused, I might add, except by MoMA curator Steven Higgins, who with great hubris embroidered his scant text with images from the Stills Archive in "Still Moving,"a book that highlights the Museum's Film and Media collections and resources. (Resource for whom, one might ask?) An exhibition of stills used in that publication are also on display at Hermes in New York.

As always, I remain grateful to all of you who took the time to write letters and articles, and offered words of support and encouragement. Change is always possible (the midterm elections are encouraging evidence), and perhaps, one day MoMA management will be without the leadership of Glenn Lowry. May all of the Museum's Archives endure.

Best regards, Mary

To make your feelings known about this situation, contact director Glenn Lowry at the Museum of Modern Art: 11 West 53 Street New York, NY 10019-5497 (212) 708-9400

Or write: archives@moma.org

Popular Blog Posts

Reverse Trip: Charting the History of Bong Joon-Ho's "Snowpiercer"

A look at the cinematic and political history that resulted in Bong Joon-Ho's "Snowpiercer."

Video games can never be art

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to ...

Home Entertainment Consumer Guide: July 17, 2014

The best new releases on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, VOD, and Blu-ray/DVD.

James Garner: 1928-2014

An obituary for the legendary James Garner, who has passed away at the age of 86.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus