Though you can linearly chart decades of Oscars winners, you can’t really do the same with the history of cinema: There are many stories that have pushed the medium forward, as the Academy Museum’s collection spells out.
That’s particularly true for the L.A. film museum’s second-ever special exhibition, an essential and energetic display that spotlights an entire century of often-overlooked filmmaking and demonstrates that Black artists have been a vital part of cinema since its inception. A collaboration with Washington, D.C.’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, “Regeneration” uses posters, costumes and film clips to dive into the works of Black actors, directors and production companies from the birth of the motion picture industry through the Civil Rights era.
The exhibition (which kicks off with a screening series of the same era) spans across seven galleries and is arranged roughly chronologically, starting with vaudeville and race films (movies made for Black audiences by Black actors) into a complex era of Hollywood musicals, through a political awakening in moviemaking and right up to the dawn of Blaxploitation films. Along the way you’ll see everything from Louis Armstrong’s trumpet to footage of Josephine Baker at the Folies Bergère to Sidney Poitier’s Oscar. But our absolute favorite thing on display is a 1939 Mills Panoram movie jukebox that screens a series of “soundies”—basically a colorful wooden cabinet with short-form musical films on a loop.