By Tammy Scileppi
Thanks to Amazon Studios, the legendary night-lighting of the Queens Museum’s Panorama of the City of New York has brought back the world’s largest scale model featuring the famous five boroughs to its former glory.
This fascinating, glammed-up exhibit – the centerpiece of the Museum – was recently unveiled for all to enjoy, just in time for the national release of Academy Award-nominated director Todd Haynes’ magical movie “Wonderstruck,” which was partly filmed on the Panorama.
Now playing everywhere, you’ll find that it’s a great feel-good film to watch with your family during the holidays.
If you were lucky enough to visit the 1964 World’s Fair back in the day, or had an opportunity to check out the museum’s exhibits before the early 1990s, you would have seen the psychedelic effect of black light on the Panorama and observed how it transformed the one of a kind model into an immersive, after-dark experience.
Commissioned for that memorable Fair, this miniature NYC consists of 895,000-plus plastic and hand-painted, realistic-looking wooden structures that represent the built and natural environment of New York City, from the Rockaways in Queens to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. It is both “an extraordinary historical object, and an invaluable tool for our present and future,” according to President and Executive Director of the Queens Museum Laura Raicovich.
Due to state-of-the-art lighting and generous assistance from Amazon Studios, the revamped twinkling exhibit – Broadway lights and all – can be viewed where it has always lived, in a 10,000-square foot-dedicated gallery.
“The Panorama is the heart of the Queens Museum and a focus of memory for both New Yorkers and visitors of the world. To have its lighting program restored to the original design and purpose of Raymond Lester and Robert Moses, through the generosity of Amazon Studios, is a marvelous gift back to the people who remember its former glory, and new viewers who are discovering it for the first time,” said Queens Museum’s curator and archives manager, Louise Weinberg.
“Seeing the Panorama lovingly portrayed in ‘Wonderstruck,’ brings new life to this beloved artifact….”
The exhibit’s old lighting has been replaced with brilliant, sustainable LED lights and the new lighting scheme will make use of specialized software that will mimic the transition from day to night.
Back when the lights went out on the museum’s city that never sleeps, the temporary blackout never lessened the wondrous impact the Panorama had on the thousands of visitors who were awed by it.
Author and screenwriter Brian Selznick was one of them. In fact, several years ago, he decided to feature his favorite exhibit in a book he was writing, called “Wonderstruck.” Based on that best-selling, critically acclaimed novel, the new film (now playing everywhere) is about a young boy with an incredible imagination, named Ben, who is guided through the Panorama by his grandmother Rose (Julianne Moore).
Ben and Rose are children from two different eras, who secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known, while Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. Both children set out on quests – that unfold with mesmerizing symmetry – to find what they are missing,
Selznick was one of several guests who attended the unveiling event at the Museum, on the occasion of the film’s release back in October. Other guests included production designer Mark Friedberg, costume designer Sandy Powell. lead actor Jaden Michael, and Tom Finkelpearl, commissioner of New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
“The Panorama is one of the great treasures of New York City,” noted Selznick, “I think it’s impossible for visitors not to be entranced by it. The model immediately becomes personal as you point out all the places you know, the places you’ve lived, visited, walked.
“I hope that Wonderstruck, and the restoration of the Panorama’s lighting to its original magnificence, will encourage even more people to take the trip out to Queens, where they can spend the afternoon discovering a miniature masterpiece, hiding in plain sight.”
Visit www.wonderstruckmovie.com for more information, or follow the film on Twitter at @wonderstruckmov.