The movie set museum

[From Linus Edwards’ VintageZen blog, where the post includes images for each proposed set exhibit]

2001: A Space Odyssey set

The Movie Set Museum

by Linus Edwards
March 11, 2013

I’ve had this idea percolating in my brain for awhile now – a museum that consists entirely of sets from famous movies. Each room in the museum would be a different movie set, made to replicate the actual feeling of being in that movie. Patrons would walk from room to room, at one moment being in The Godfather, and the next in Star Wars.

I think the genesis of the idea came from when I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art and they had numerous ‘period rooms’, which were actual historical rooms they had acquired which were set up to look exactly as they did during their respective time periods. So you could visit a French grand salon, medieval cloister, or even an ancient Japanese ceremonial teahouse. I thought, if they could do that, why not take movie sets from famous movies and reconstruct them in a museum.

Thinking about the specifics of this museum, the sets would either be actual sets from the movie (if they still existed), or meticulously recreated sets. The recreated sets would have to be very exacting, and basically made to look indistinguishable from the real thing. I realize that even if you had an actual set, many of them are missing things, like ceilings or fourth walls. Those pieces would all be recreated to match the rest of the set and create an entire room. The key would be every room you enter would be a complete 360 degree environment, and you would feel as if you actually were in the movie.

I imagine a person walking from set to set, at one moment in a 40s noir movie, and the next in an 80s comedy. It would be a surreal place to visit, as you would enter into these various worlds you’ve spent your entire life watching. Each room’s set would be lighted to match exactly how it looked on film, and there would be ambient sound playing in the background matched to the reality of the place. So a set of a New York City apartment would have genuine street sounds, while a set of a space ship might have the hum of the ship’s engine. All the sounds will be taken directly from the movie if at all possible.

I would want the museum to focus on movies from the past (even the recent past) and not brand new movies. Although, there could be a new movie wing that rotates in and out more recent movie sets. I initially thought the movies could be grouped by genre or time period, but I think it would be more engaging if you went from one completely different set to another. It would become almost a dreamlike experience, walking through these wildly different worlds.

As for the actual movies that would be part of the museum, I’ve collected a number of movies that I think would work well, although I know there are countless other worthy sets I’ve not included.

Vito Corleone’s Office from The Godfather

The museum would be incomplete without including one of the most famous sets in movie history. Of course this would attract untold numbers of people wanting to have their picture taken at Vito Corleone’s desk.

The Discovery One’s Pod Bay from 2001: A Space Odyssey

There are many sets one could include from Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, but I settled upon this one [image above]. “Open the pod bay doors Hal.”

The Dude’s Apartment from the The Big Lebowski

Complete with pee stained rug.

The 7 ½ floor office from Being John Malkovich

This is truly a memorable movie set, and would be very trippy trying to walk through. Kids would love it too.

Rick’s Cafe from Casablanca

Since this set would have to be very large, I think you could actually use the set as a working restaurant inside the museum.

The Millennium Falcon from Star Wars

I can’t imagine a Star Wars fan not falling all over themselves to visit this set.

Ferris Bueller’s Bedroom from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

After I read this article about how amazingly intricate this bedroom set was, I think it would very interesting to explore in person.

The Chocolate Room from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

This would be the crown jewel of the museum and by far its biggest set. It would be what you see last and I think it would blow most people’s minds. Of course, it wouldn’t be edible, but otherwise it would be amazing.


Ultimately, I actually think this could be a real museum. I know its incredibly ambitious and would cost many millions of dollars, but I can’t imagine a bigger tourist attraction. If this was in Los Angeles, I think every tourist would put this on the top of the list of places to visit. To work though, it would have to be close to how I’ve described it, and not some crude attempt at a museum with only 3 or 4 sets from obscure movies. The only way this works is if it includes a significant amount of well known and classic movies, is done to exacting standards, and strives to completely awe its patrons.

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One response to “The movie set museum”

  1. Victoria Miniscalco

    I think that this is a unique and interesting idea for a museum. I think that we as a society have a fascination with movies so I think that this would be a success if it could be pulled off. Even though I think it is a great idea and I would personally visit this museum if it were made, I still question how authentic the experience would be especially because a lot of movies sets appear larger on screen so would the room be representative of the size of the room that they filmed in or the size it seems to appear on the screen. Many sets are also created through the use of green screen technology and sophisticated graphic design so I wonder if that would pose a problem in allowing the set designers to bring the room to life. I think that the way they set up the museum and determine where each room would be placed could either enhance or hinder the presence experience. I think that having two sets from movies that are completely unrelated and have an extreme shift in time and setting could break the experience causing those in the museum to realize that the room is just re-modeled after the set, whereas if they set it up so that the rooms would flow together effortlessly then it would enhance the experience and help to produce a stronger experience. One last thing that I think would affect it is if they really did use the actual props or sets of certain movies. First of all I think that it would be extremely expensive to pay to have those sets and props featured and would people be roped off so they could not touch or damage anything because this would also play into the type of experience one might have. Regardless of the small details that need to be taken into account, I think that this in an interesting concept for a museum and I could see myself attending.

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