In a move that wasn’t unexpected, the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures’ Board of Trustees has announced that Jacqueline Stewart will become the institution’s Director and President. She succeeds Bill Kramer, who last week officially assumed his duties as the new CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where he takes over for departing CEO Dawn Hudson.
Stewart was considered the most likely person to replace Kramer and was appointed in 2020 to a key position there as Chief Artistic and Programming Officer. She will begin the top job on July 18, overseeing all aspects of its operations. Perhaps best known as a host for Turner Classic Movies, guiding its “Silent Sunday Nights,” Stewart also is a leading scholar, curator and public educator on cinema.
Ted Sarandos, Chair of the Academy Museum’s Board of Trustees and Co-CEO of Netflix, said: “The Board warmly and unanimously agrees that Jacqueline Stewart is the ideal choice to lead the Academy Museum into the future. A strong and inspiring partner to Bill Kramer throughout the period leading up to our opening, she gave indispensable direction to the curatorial program that has been so widely admired. Her assumption of the role of Director and President is a testament to both the intellectual heft of the Academy Museum and its institutional strength.”
Kramer, who recently told me he felt the current staff is more than able to see the long-gestating museum well into its next phases, said: “It has been a great privilege to work hand-in-hand with Jacqueline as we opened the Academy Museum. I am thrilled that we will continue to collaborate in our two new roles. I know the museum will thrive thanks to her rare combination of expertise, creativity, and proven leadership. Like movie fans everywhere, I am so thankful to have her guide the future of the Academy Museum.”
Stewart, who has led strategy and planning for the museum’s curatorial, educational and public programming initiatives, is ready to take on the challenge.
“Our ambition in opening the Academy Museum was to give Los Angeles and the world an unprecedented institution for understanding and appreciating the history and culture of cinema, in all its artistic glory and all its power to influence and reflect society,” she said. “I feel deeply honored to have been chosen for this new role and look forward to working with our Board of Trustees, our COO and General Counsel Brendan Connell Jr., our wonderfully talented staff, and with Bill Kramer and the Academy, as we continue to advance our mission.”
Under Stewart’s guidance, the Academy Museum has launched numerous exhibitions, screenings, symposia, publications, workshops, youth programs and the new Academy Museum podcast. Honored in 2021 as a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, she was a 2019 senior fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2018. She holds an appointment as Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, and previously served on the faculty of Northwestern University.
Stewart’s work in expanding public understanding of cinema and bringing film history to life has included her award-winning book Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity, a study of African Americans and silent cinema, and her co-editorship of L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema and William Greaves: Filmmaking as Mission. She has also co-curated the video collection “Pioneers of African American Cinema” for Kino Lorber. A native of Chicago’s South Side, Stewart founded the South Side Home Movie Project in 2005 to preserve, digitize and screen amateur footage documenting everyday life from the perspectives of South Side residents.
A passionate film archivist and advocate for film preservation, she is chair of the National Film Preservation Board, where she led the drafting of reports on diversity, equity and inclusion on the National Film Registry and in the film archival profession. Stewart also has served on the boards of Chicago Film Archives, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and the Association of Moving Image Archivists.
Stewart’s research has been supported by institutions including the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture of the New York Public Library, the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, the Franke Institute for the Humanities at the University of Chicago and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Stewart earned her BA in English from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago. She studied moving image archiving at UCLA and the Cineteca di Bologna in Italy.
The Academy Museum’s next big exhibition, “Regeneration: Black Cinema 1898 -1971” opens next month.
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