The Movie Set Museum

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.  “Open the pod bay doors Hal.”

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The Dude’s Apartment from the The
Big Lebowski

Complete with pee stained rug.

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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.


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The Millennium Falcon from Star
Wars

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


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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.

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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.

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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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11 thoughts on “The Movie Set Museum

  1. I’m not entirely certain why there are no comments on this post. Having said that, shut up and take my money. I would visit this place in a heartbeat. Fantastic idea.

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  2. Love this idea. Question: how would the museum deal with black and white movies? The Casablanca set, for example, is b&w in my mind – it would be jarring to see it in color IRL. What to do about this?

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  3. @ Nick: One could use blacks, whites and grays for the room’s color pallet, including lighting that has a neutral color temperature. Even the restaurant staff would be dressed in white and black, perhaps with a touch of makeup to appear pale. The only elements you cannot control are the visitors, who would especially stand out if they are wearing colorful clothes.

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  4. I’ve often thought of something similar in a house someday, to have Rick’s Cafe where people could hang out. For a nightcap, (who says that anymore?) head over to Deckard’s apartment from Blade Runner replicating that exterior balcony view, eclectic for sure, but fun!

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  5. the now defunct hollywood entertainment museum used to have the complete cheers bar set…i’d go there, sit on norm’s stool to watch monday night football (catered), and get NORM!ed all night…fun stuff

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  6. The issues would be with the copyright. Disney all ready has the prop tram tour. Universal has the back set tram tour. It would have to be up to each company to design each room aka take a share of the profits. Unless your in China then anything flys.

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  7. Korova Milk Bar, Overlook Hotel, Nostromo or LV-426, Jack Rabbit Slim’s or another fictional location from Pulp Fiction, The Shire, Silence of the Lambs, Indiana Jones’ classroom, Psycho motel room, Halloween Tommy’s house, Cyberdyne Terminator 2, Doc Brown’s lab, The Exorcist bedroom, there are too many

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    1. All great choices, a couple were on the bigger list I made of potential sets when I was initially writing the article.

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