Letter from filmmakers Taran Davies and Jonathan Barker to NMNH board members

July 27, 2017

Dear Members of the Board of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History,

The Smithsonian confirmed to the Washington Post earlier this week that the NMNH will demolish the Johnson IMAX Theater—the premier theater in the United States for screening IMAX educational documentary films about nature—in order to “make people more comfortable” and because you think an expanded cafeteria “will be more attractive.”

Having first explained your plan to demolish the theater was in order to expand food service, a Smithsonian representative has now told the media that it is also “a museum decision to make other use of the space for future museum programming.” The public has yet to be informed what this programming will be, how much it will cost, and who will fund it.

We believe the museum has an obligation to provide specific details that fully answer these
questions in light of its plan to destroy one of the premier venues for natural history
programming in the United States, and the current federal budget environment. How do you propose to secure the funds needed to replace this flagship educational resource with something equally in line with the museum’s mission?

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Hamburgers Before Dinosaurs? Smithsonian To Close IMAX Theater At The Natural History Museum (DCist)

One of the area’s most spectacular moviegoing experiences is about to go the way of the dinosaur. But a group of documentary filmmakers is not letting it go down without a fight.

This fall, the Smithsonian plans to demolish the Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater at the National Museum of Natural History in order to make space for an expanded cafeteria.

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Statement in Response to Washington Post Article

Following is a comment from the group “Save Our IMAX,” a consortium of filmmakers who have created some of the world’s most popular documentary IMAX films about nature:

 

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History confirmed to the Washington Post that it will demolish the Johnson IMAX Theater—the premier theater in the United States for screening IMAX educational documentary films about nature—in order to “make people more comfortable” and because they think an expanded cafeteria “will be more attractive.”

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Filmmakers Protest IMAX Closure at Smithsonian (WMAL)

Filmmakers are outraged by the Smithsonian’s decision to close the Samuel C. Johnson IMAX theater at the National Museum of Natural History.

“The leadership of the Natural History museum has decided that what our children need is less nature and more fast food,” said Johnathan Barker, CEO of SK FIlms and Executive Producer of “Amazon Adventure.”

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Natural History Museum to demolish Imax theater to expand restaurant (The Washington Post)

The Imax movie theater in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will close Sept. 30 to make room for an expanded cafeteria and exhibition space.

Museum officials say the Johnson Imax Theater, a 500-seat venue that opened in 1999, is usually filled to only about 20 percent capacity, while the nearby restaurant, one of the smallest of the Smithsonian cafeterias, is frequently overcrowded. Officials hope to complete the renovation in time for the reopening of the Fossil Halls in 2019.

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Filmmaker: “Connection to nature” in jeopardy as Smithsonian plans to close Imax theater (WTOP)

A good Imax movie can make you feel like you’re soaring over trees, crawling around with bugs or in a stormy rain forest.

But Jonathan Barker, who produced the movie “Amazon Adventure,” currently showing at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, says we’re about to lose that experience.

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Filmmakers Unite to Protest Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s plan to demolish its IMAX theater in order to expand a cafeteria (PoPVille)

Some of the world’s most prominent IMAX documentary filmmakers are leading a charge to oppose the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s plan to demolish its IMAX theater in order to expand a cafeteria. In a public letter, the filmmakers have asked the museum’s Executive Director Dr. Kirk Johnson, to delay the demolition in order to engage in a transparent and public dialogue on the decision, including a full financial disclosure of the IMAX theater as well as the rationale for the proposed cafeteria expansion and its expected revenues.

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Filmmakers Unite to Protest IMAX Closure at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 20, 2017

 

Filmmakers Unite to Protest IMAX Closure at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Museum plans to demolish the IMAX theater to expand its existing cafeteria

 

Washington, D.C. – Some of the world’s most prominent IMAX documentary filmmakers are leading a charge to oppose the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s plan to demolish its IMAX theater in order to expand a cafeteria. In a public letter, the filmmakers have asked the museum’s Executive Director Dr. Kirk Johnson, to delay the demolition in order to engage in a transparent and public dialogue on the decision, including a full financial disclosure of the IMAX theater as well as the rationale for the proposed cafeteria expansion and its expected revenues.

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Letter to the Smithsonian

 

Dear Dr. Johnson and Members of the Board of the National Museum of Natural History,

We, a group of documentary IMAX® producers and directors, whose films have earned more than $1 billion at the global box office, are writing to express our grave concern about the plans to demolish the Samuel C. Johnson IMAX Theater at the National Museum of Natural History.

It is our understanding through conversations with Dr. Johnson that the Smithsonian Institution plans to show its last IMAX film by Oct. 1 this year, and will demolish the theater in order to make way for an expanded cafeteria. We are writing to ask you to reconsider this plan.

 

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