A popular attraction at the German museum is the "Artificial Worlds" exhibition, which Dr. Giesen has overseen for 15 years in various forms. He said that, when combined with his own personal holdings, it is the second-largest special effects collection in the world, after one owned by Lucasfilm. Stocked with sci-fi and fantasy artifacts, it houses, among other things, a Darth Vader costume, reproductions of figures from "Alien" and "Westworld" and original Ray Harryhausen models from films like "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" and "Clash of the Titans".
Yet the museum's collection — which includes one million stills, tens of thousands of posters, 16,000 film titles, 24,000 film prints and thousands of original set designs — might never have reached critical mass were it not for the initial acquisition of personal collections from the German film collector Albert Fidelius and the German director and film historian Gerhard Lamprecht. That Hollywood must now compete with avid collectors for its own artifacts speaks to what author David Thomson, an adviser to the academy's planned museum, calls the film industry's "cheerful neglect" of cultural history.
Mr. Thomson recalled a trip to the old Pathé lot in Culver City in 1989, where he learned that pieces of sets and props from films as revered as "King Kong", "Citizen Kane" and "Gone With The Wind" were being surreptitiously stolen by studio insiders who knew their value. "Basically that's the way Hollywood has regarded its treasury," he said. "It's been pillaged over the years."
In addition to overheated collectors, any new film museum will have to deal with problems of approach and economics that are already challenging others.