NEW YORK — Tucked away in Astoria, Queens, the Museum of the Moving Image is a thorough look at the history of movies, TV and any other moving image you can think of.
Its three floors of exhibits cater to both audio/visual techies (lots of information about early cameras and their mechanics, etc.) and people interested in pop culture.
For all the technical information you get, the museum is a hoot even if you know nothing about panning, tilting or aspect ratios. There's Tut's Fever, a full theater modeled after the elaborate movie palaces of the 1920s. And there are plenty of interactive features for children, including a make-your-own-animation station.
A television screen plays some of the earliest films, by the Lumiere brothers from France and by Thomas Edison. It includes the 10-minute "Great Train Robbery" from 1903, made by Edison associate Edwin Porter. Considered the world's first blockbuster, it made $2 million in three years.
Ever wonder how sports broadcasters manage all the camera angles during a game? The museum has a simulation of the Yankees' broadcasting control room. It includes eight monitors, each focusing on a different part of the game with a recording of Bill Webb directing what angle to broadcast.
The second floor leans more toward showbiz. Costumes from TV's "Mork & Mindy" and movies including "Chicago" and "Beverly Hills Cop" are on display.
The highlight of the second floor is a makeup and special-effects section. Encased in glass is a "body husk" seen briefly in "Cocoon." Modeled after actor Mike Nomad, it looks creepily lifelike but deflated. I don't know what effect it had on movie audiences, but it's pretty startling in the museum.
Remember the scene in "The Exorcist" when Linda Blair's head did a 360? They've got the dummy on display, with its mechanized head and remote-controlled eyes. (That's how they did things in pre-computer graphics days.) Other highlights include the Yoda puppet from the "Star Wars" movies and a case full of David Letterman props, including original Top 10 lists and a doughnut launcher.
Check www.movingimage.us to see when the museum is holding special demonstrations or screenings.
— William Weir, Hartford Courant
n WHAT: Museum of the Moving Image, 35 Avenue at 36 Street, Astoria, N.Y. (www.movingimage.us; 718-784-0077)
n QUICK TAKE: Exhibits focusing on the art, history, technique and technology of film, television and the digital media.
n WHEN: Wednesday-Thursday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
n ADMISSION: $10 adults, $7.50 seniors and students with ID, $5 children 5-18 and free children under 5. (Free admission to galleries Friday 4-8 p.m.)