NEW YORK — FORTUNATELY, says Rochelle Slovin, director of the American Museum of the Moving Image, the film business itself has started to recognize the importance of remembering and preserving its past. The industry has been ``very generous,'' she says, in supporting this gleaming showplace in Queens, which opened its doors last September.
Though London's Museum of the Moving Image was launched at the same time, it has no connection with the American museum. Housed in the Kaufman Astoria Studios complex here in Queens, this museum offers screenings and special programs, in addition to housing some 60,000 artifacts related to the history of cinema and television.
Its highlights range from exhibitions of video clips and fan magazines to such room-size attractions as a set from ``The Glass Menagerie,'' donated by Paul Newman, and the flamboyant ``Tut's Fever,'' a 40-seat theater designed by artists Red Grooms and Lysiane Luong to recall the neo-Egyptian movie palaces of the 1920s.
What's the philosophy behind the museum's shows and exhibitions? ``Motion pictures, television, and video are completely absorbed into 20th-century life,'' Ms. Slovin says. ``But they've been little analyzed and less understood. It's only in the past 10 or 15 years that cinema-studies departments have grown at all in the United States....
``So we believe we have an education role to play, with respect to social history and how the moving-image media have had impact on the life of this century. ... And since these are media of applied technologies, the questions of technique and labor are also very important.''
Slovin feels that the museum's insistence on grouping film, video art, and commercial television is ``perhaps the most unusual part'' of the museum's outlook. But she insists it's a logical stance to take.
``They share personnel; they share technology; and they share attitude and impact,'' she asserts.
``To my knowledge, we're the only people in America who are talking about them as parts of the same whole....
``We try to assemble a point of view that combines the imperatives of the industry with the desires of the artists. And we don't overlook the way the artist's work gets absorbed into the industry!''