Time running out for the Cinema Museum

Cinema Museum

As was reported a few months ago on The Bioscope, the Cinema Museum in south London comes to the end of its lease this month, and has no new home to move to. Its current home is a former Lambeth workhouse (the same one that once incarcerated Charlie Chaplin’s mother), but this is owned by an NHS trust and it wants to sell the dilapidated property. The Cinema Museum is privately-owned and not open to the general public. It only keeps going financially through its commercial stills business. It is an absolute treasure trove of cinema memorabilia – posters, designs, seats, uniforms, costumes, books, journals, equipment, and a sizeable film collection, as well as a million stills.

The Cinema Museum may be struggling to find a base, but it is doing very well at drumming up publicity. There have been press reports, such as this account in The Times, and yesterday there was a report on Channel 4 News, which you can see on its site (as well as the uncut original interview with owner Ronald Grant, no less).

The lease runs out on March 25, and no one knows what will happen thereafter. Anyone with a large (10,000 sq ft) space in London not doing that much who might like to provide a home for the collection should get in touch with Ronald Grant or Martin Humphries asap. It’s an irony that while the Cinema Museum faces eviction, on London’s South Bank we have the peculiar, opportunistic Movieum of London just opened, dedicatd to British cinema, sort of, though I doubt much that it devotes much space, if any, to the silent era.

If you want to see what’s held in the Cinema Museum, take a look at their wonderful promo film available on YouTube.

Update (23 March): The Cinema Museum reports that the NHS Trust which owns the building has given them a two-month reprieve (i.e. to the end of May). Meetings are taking place regarding the museum’s long-term prospects, but this will still leave them needing to find a new home in the short-term. Also their website is active again, having gone down for a short while. More news as I find it.

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