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Museum of the Moving Image

Leeser Architecture

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Project Name

Museum of the Moving Image

Project Status



47,700 sq. feet

Construction Cost



Museum of the Moving Image


  • Construction Manager: F.J. Sciame Construction Co.
  • Lighting Designer: L’Observatoire International
  • : Ambrosino, DePinto & Schmieder
  • Electrical Engineer: Ambrosino, DePinto & Schmieder
  • Plumbing Engineer: Ambrosino, DePinto & Schmieder
  • Structural Engineer: Anastos Engineering Associates
  • Civil Engineer: Stantec





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Project Description

At first mention, it seems odd that the Museum of the Moving Image (MMI) is located in Astoria, Queens, N.Y., removed from Manhattan’s wealth of cultural institutions. But it turns out that the museum is perfectly sited among the ghosts of early filmmaking.

The site had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, a designation that limited alterations to the exterior. The only apparent change to the historic façade is a new entrance and bolder signage on mirrored and transparent glass. However, once visitors enter the lobby, the moving-image experience begins immediately. A 50-foot-long wall ignites a voyage of gentle disorientation, with a large-scale panoramic video constantly projecting a swirling, cyclical narrative. Across the lobby, a pair of gently sloping ramps edged in soft blue light lead to the new 267-seat main theater. The theater’s interior is wrapped in an acoustical womb of 1,136 triangular, vacuum-formed felt panels fitted together by open joints with integrated lighting.

Elsewhere, Leeser employed light-blue, seamless, cast-polyester floors and canted walls. A grand staircase is the orienting element for the museum. The first landing delivers visitors into a darkened amphitheater, where visual acclimation is challenged by digital projections. Mood lighting seeps out from under the amphitheater benches, further manipulating depth perception.

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