Library of Congress to Show Classics in Art Deco Theatre

Bookmark and Share

Mon, 09/08/2008 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

Starting this month the Library of Congress will offer a picture-perfect dream for cinema buffs—classic movies shown three times a week in a new art deco theatre reminiscent of the movie palaces of the 1920s and 1930s.

“Rarely today are so many classic American films shown in 35mm in a single location under such ideal new conditions ” says Mike Mashon head of the Moving Image section of the library’s Motion Picture Broadcasting and Recorded Sound division.

 The 200-seat theatre is located in the library’s state-of-the-art recently opened Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center on Mount Pony near Culpeper Virginia. It is one of only five theatres in the country equipped to show original classic film prints on nitrate film stock as they would have been screened in theatres prior to 1950.

The theatre on Mount Pony also features a custom-made organ that can rise from a pit in the stage. “Watching silent films accompanied by live music will allow patrons a richer cinematic experience ” Mashon says.

Sponsored by MBRS the film series will mark the first public showings at the theatre on Mount Pony. The series running from September 4 through November 22 will showcase selected short subjects and feature film classics such as The Maltese Falcon The Wizard of Oz 42nd Street and Gone with the Wind. All of the feature films are on the library’s National Film Registry a list of culturally historically or aesthetically significant films that are preserved for all time.

The theatre is located on the ground floor of the Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center 19053 Mount Pony Rd. Culpeper Virginia. The program of films is subject to change without notice. The Packard Campus was made possible by the financial support from Packard Humanities Institute (PHI). The facility with a construction cost of more than $150 million represents the largest-ever private gift to the Library of Congress and one of the largest ever to the federal government.  A public component of this 415 000-square-foot facility is the theatre which showcases state-of-the-art archival projection capability for nitrate film 35mm 70mm and modern digital cinema featuring the highest sound quality.  

“The creation of the theatre was a labor of love for David Woodley Packard (president of PHI) ” says Gregory Lukow chief of MBRS. “He is a true believer in preserving the American cinema heritage and preserving the classic exhibition experience.”  

 Library of Congress