The phrase “movie magic” is a fitting description for the many creative and technical processes that go into the production, promotion, and presentation of films, television shows, and digital entertainment. The Museum of the Moving Image in New York City celebrates this magic and educates visitors through dynamic, hands-on experiences.

The core exhibition “Behind the Screen” reveals the skills, resources, and decisions that go into making moving images. With artifacts spanning from the first days of film to the present-day impact of digital tools, the exhibition is informative and interactive.

Groups can arrange a guided highlights tour with a museum educator. “Our guides share their own background in film and animation as they explain concepts,” says Norah Tyler, manager of school programs and group visits at the museum.

“Behind the Screen” exhibit, Museum of the Moving Image
Credit: Stefan Hagan/Museum of the Moving Image

“Behind the Screen” includes nearly four hours of audiovisual material, all of which bring key moments in film history to life. The space incorporates about 1,400 artifacts like historic film and television cameras, television sets, sound equipment, costumes, sketches and models, and licensed merchandise, as well as modern-day examples of moving images like video games.

Interactive stations allow visitors to experience the “magic” for themselves. “Sound and audio editing stations let visitors explore Foley effects with popular films and series to really get a sense of how audio editing changes the experience.” Tyler says. “The Titanic station is another fan favorite where guests explore this by layering sound, dialogue, and music on or off.”

Guests can also create their own flip-books, try their hand at stop-motion animation, play vintage arcade games, and dub their voice over a classic movie scene.

Another highlight is “The Jim Henson Exhibition,” which features a range of objects from throughout his career. The exhibit reveals how Henson brought to life enduringly pop- ular worlds like “The Muppet Show,” “Sesame Street,” and “Fraggle Rock.” Among the nearly 300 objects on view are 47 puppets—including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Big Bird, Elmo, and Cantus Fraggle. Interactive experiences allow visitors to try their hand at puppeteering on screen and designing a puppet character.

Film-focused groups can add a screening to cap off their visit. “It is one thing to see and interact, but to then stay and see a film that incorporates everything you just learned is a pretty unique experience,” Tyler says.

For more information on the Museum of the Moving Image, call 718-777-6800 or go to

Main Image: Museum of the Moving Image; Credit: Peter Aaron/ESTO/Museum of the Moving Image

Article by Michael McLaughlin