The Florida Museum has tons of scenic backdrops from iconic movies

It’s a celebration of film faking.

A new exhibit of vintage film backdrops in Florida has fans climbing Mount Rushmore with Cary Grant and gazing at Ancient Rome with Charlton Heston — all in one afternoon.

The Boca Raton Museum’s “Hollwood Background Art” showcases 22 massive canvases from classics such as “North by Northwest,” “The Sound of Music,” and “Ben Hur”.

“The exhibition celebrates Hollywood’s masters of illusion and perspective, whose vital role in making cinematic magic has so far been rarely recognized for their talent or applause,” the museum said on its website.

These backgrounds were borrowed from the University of Texas at Austin for use in films from 1938 to 1968, while some were not related to specific films.

Curators Karen Maness and Thomas Walsh also sought to find and display the forgotten artist behind each piece.

The museum allows guests to climb Mount Rushmore with Cary Grant and gaze at ancient Rome with Charlton Heston.
Boca Raton Art Museum
still from the sound of music On display as one of 22 huge canvases at the Boca Raton Museum.
Courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library
Originally drawn for Ben-Hur in 1959, this setting was used in the 2016 film Hooray Caesar!
Originally drawn for Ben-Hur in 1959, this setting was used in the 2016 film Hooray Caesar!
Boca Raton Art Museum

The pair spent hours combing through oral histories and other archives and identified about a dozen canvas creators.

Manes, a professor at the University of Texas who wrote a book on the history of film backgrounds in 2016, organized a similar exhibition at the college.

Even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the exhibit was regularly sold out, and attendees marveled at the massive Mount Rushmore canvas from Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic thriller.

The original setting for the 1952 film Singing in the Rain is on display at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.
The original backdrop for the 1952 film singing in the rain On display at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.
Boca Raton Art Museum
The museum says on its website that the Boca Raton Museum celebrates Hollywood's masters of illusion and perspective.
The museum says on its website that the Boca Raton Museum celebrates Hollywood’s masters of illusion and perspective.
Melinda Sue Gordon. Gift of the Film Institute Museum, Art Directors Guild Archives.
The background showing
The background showing “The Beginning of the End” can be seen in the Pentagon corridor at the Boca Raton Museum.
Courtesy of JC Backings, Oscar Film Museum, Gift from JC Backings

“I take my love of painting with me while also being an advocate for these artists, helping them be seen in history. They deserve recognition and respect,” Manes told the Palm Beach Post.

Irvin Lippmann, director of the Boca Raton Art Museum, contacted Maness to bring the works to South Florida.

Irvin Lippmann, director of the Boca Raton Art Museum, contacted Maness to bring the works to South Florida.
Irvin Lippmann, director of the Boca Raton Art Museum, contacted Maness to bring the works to South Florida.
Boca Raton Art Museum
Background creators of the past had to master optical magic without technical help, Lippmann said.
Background creators of the past had to master optical magic without technical help, Lippmann said.
Boca Raton Art Museum

While modern filmmakers often rely on CGI to immerse audiences, Lippmann says background creators of the past had to master optical magic without the help of technology.

“These are artists who understand the art of illusion,” he told the outlet.

An exterior portrait of the New York skyline showing the Brooklyn Bridge has been found at MGM Studios.
An exterior portrait of the New York City skyline showing the Brooklyn Bridge has been found at the Boca Raton Museum.
Boca Raton Art Museum

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