Tagged: Museum of the Moving Image

Mad Men Relics Will Go to the Smithsonian

Mad Men props and costumes are going to the Smithsonian (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta).

Mad Men props and costumes are going to the Smithsonian (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta).

The final seven episodes from the “seventh” season of Mad Men will begin to air next Sunday night on AMC—and begin streaming on Monday for cord cutters like me. As the program wrapped production, the producers donated many of the props and costumes from the series to the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.

Brett Zongker from the AP reports…

Curators at the Smithsonian were particularly interested in “Mad Men’s” real 1960s-period relics, from cigarette cartons and liquor bottles to shaving kits and tooth brushes that were used in the show, along with costumes that were recreated for the period. Some objects, including Draper’s suit, will be featured in an exhibit on American culture slated for 2018.

Relics from a television series ending up at the Smithsonian reminded me of my friend Derek and the time he worked as a docent at the Paley Center—formerly known as the Museum of TV and Radio and sometimes referred to as the Museum of TV and Television. When he would greet visitors, informing them that they can request to watch almost any TV program from the history of the medium, many visitors would ask to instead see props and costumes from television shows. One common request, he told me, was to see The Puffy Shirt from Seinfeld.. He would inevitably disappoint everyone when he informed them that, although patrons could watch the episode at the museum, the museum did not have the shirt or any similar objet. That’s because the shirt is at the Smithsonian.


I always found that curious because the Smithsonian Museum of American History is the closest thing we have in the US to an official national museum and ministry of culture, and this was an almost official endorsement of television as part of our national heritage.

By the way, those in New York can already indulge in the world of Mad Men at the Museum of Moving Image in Astoria until mid-June. However, you’re too late to get a $19.69 prix-fixe, “era-appropriate” lunch special for Mad Men Dining Week.

Unlike the seemingly continual Restaurant Week, this special was only good for a single week.

Class Field Trip to the Museum of the Moving Image

Moviola sound editing machine

This Tuesday, the students from my History of Film class from Fordham University, Lincoln Center visited the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. I haven’t been there since the museum underwent a major renovation about two years ago. I was concerned that many of the best parts of the museum were gone, but that concern was for naught. They were all there. Since I have an obsession with old electronics, especially those preserved and presented at museums, I had a blast shooting photos of all these objects.

The thaumatrope in action

The tour also complemented a great deal of material that we covered throughout the semester, especially in the beginning. We saw the usual pre-cinema toys and devices, such as the magic lantern, the thaumatrope, and the zoetrope. There were of course more contemporary objects that we cover in recent classes, such as a Vitaphone disk and projector, Technicolor camera.

Portable news camera (1)

I’d judge the class trip as a success. A couple of students seemed enthusiastic about seeing in person a lot of the objets that I’ve described in painstaking detail. One student in particular wrote an email to thank me for arranging the trip. And one student, who I judged to be a regular at the museum, was very enthusiastic about the screenings there.