Tucked in at the corner of Hollywood and Highland Boulevards in the heart of Hollywood lies the Hollywood Museum, fronted by a seemingly nondescript building but filled with treasures of the silver screen.
The first floor of the Hollywood Museum starts in the lobby, which hosts a collection of awards from various celebrities along with a history of Max Factor, one of Hollywood’s famed makeup artists. The Hollywood Museum currently resides in the Max Factor building – hence the museum’s tribute to him. After the lobby, the floor opens into several rather overwhelming rooms, each a different color. The colors and aesthetics of each of the rooms were based on Factor’s “theories” about how hair color, eye color and skin tone match certain hues. The rooms are accompanied by a few unsavory (and somewhat problematic) beauty products (and thankfully their problematic nature is acknowledged) that Factor and his makeup artists took pride in using. They’re relatively intriguing, despite how bizarre they are. In each, the rest of the room is, as mentioned previously, somewhat overwhelming – packed to the brim with costume pieces, makeup items and various belongings of celebrities.
It’s hard to take it all in, save for the few larger pieces, and it’s even more difficult to navigate, but the Museum is nevertheless worth scanning to see if anything stands out. Unless you’re an extreme Golden Age of Hollywood buff, it might be tough to enjoy it all. However, other parts of the first floor and building are fascinating, including a back part of the floor with props from the “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” franchises, “Planet of the Apes,” “The Hunger Games” and more. This part of the building is easier to appreciate given that fewer items are on display, an especially because of those items’ iconic nature. Nevertheless, the room is still hidden in the back, which makes it less accessible.
Next to the back room lies the autograph wall, filled with hundreds of autographs collected by a famous autograph hound who would hang out at various clubs and celebrity haunts. Next to it is a room filled with old photos of Hollywood stars and Hollywood itself throughout the ages — studios, the area, film sets and more. It’s somewhat startling to see the white faces lining the photo walls, all in perfectly coiffed hairdos and frozen smiles – it’s alluring in an eerie, almost alarming way.
The basement is a fabulous tribute to all things horror, decked out with a makeshift prison cell from “Silence of the Lambs” along with lighting and aesthetics that would make a haunted house jealous. Ascending to the second floor, however, allows perhaps the most interesting experience. Although still relatively cluttered, this floor claims to include an exhibit on LGBTQ+ representation in media, although it’s more of a sprinkling than an exhibit. Still, the rest of the floor is filled with costumes and props from an unimaginably large number of iconic television shows – something you’d never be able to see otherwise. The third floor is equally fascinating, complete with a much larger and more thorough exhibit on Batman through the years. The Batman exhibit presents the franchise from all different angles – toys, comics, television and film props, artwork and lore.
Boasting four levels all packed floor-to-ceiling with treasured artifacts from all ages of Hollywood (including a piece of the original Hollywood sign!), the Hollywood Museum will delight all hardcore fans of the entertainment industry.
Contact Olivia Popp at oliviapopp ‘at’ stanford.edu.