June 19, 2013 By Bill Parry
The renovation and expansion of Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave.) is complete—with the ribbon cutting of a 10,000 sq ft. outdoor courtyard.
The landscaped courtyard will be the entry point for visitors—including the 50,000 students who visit the museum each year, half of whom are from Queens. Furthermore, the courtyard will include an outdoor cafe, open-air screenings and exhibitions.
The famous museum, which focuses on Hollywood and the media, opened in 1988 and began its expansion in March 2008. While it reopened in 2011, it has taken until now to complete.
“This sends a [positive] message to working … families that something like this can be found in their neighborhood,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.
The courtyard will be named for George S. Kaufman. “Half of Astoria is named after him in one way or another, so why not?” joked Van Bramer.
The expansion and renovation project held special meaning for Van Bramer, who recalled growing up on 44th Street in Astoria. As a child in the 1970’s, he rode past the decrepit shell of a building that was occupied by gang members, he said.
Rochelle Slovin, the museum’s Founding Director, remembered arriving in the winter of 1981. “I wept when I came here,” Slovin said, adding. “The courtyard was filled with rusted out air conditioners and abandoned trucks,” Slovin said adding, “It was a vast wasteland.”
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said the completion of the project makes the area a destination for business and visitors alike. “I spent your money to build a wonderful cultural district for our borough,” she said.
The area includes the Museum of the Moving Image, Kaufman Studios and the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts. The youth of the community will benefit most from the cultural campus, according to Van Bramer, who said, “They have it just as good as anyone growing up on the Upper West Side or Park Ave.”