Camera Collection at the American Society of Cinematographers – Los Angeles, California - Atlas Obscura

Los Angeles, California

Camera Collection at the American Society of Cinematographers

Inside this clubhouse is a cinephile's paradise. 

Behind the tall hedges across the street from the famous Magic Castle is another clubhouse—this one slightly less magical, but no less wondrous. 

Inside the former home of the silent film star Conway Tearle, you’ll find the American Society of Cinematographers. Once a place where male industry insiders gathered to smoke cigars and shoot the breeze at the end of a workday, today it’s open to everyone—even visitors. 

The organization boasts a huge collection of historic cameras, from the late-1800s to the present. Wandering around the plush chairs and sofas in the ASC’s lounge, you’ll discover lantern-like projectors that beamed a single image, as well as the Edison Kinetoscope, which rolled 50 feet of film. The one in the ASC’s collection is mid-restoration, and once played a high-kicking serpentine dance performed by Annabel Moore, one of the stars of the Ziegfeld Follies.

Other highlights of the collection include the Mitchell BNC 2 that Gregg Toland used to film Citizen Kane (restored to its original black, after a blue paint job was removed). More recent additions include early digital cameras that weighed as much as 30 pounds each. Since the society is always adding to the collection, it will continue to be a record of the art and science of moving images. 

Know Before You Go

Call the clubhouse at (323) 969-4333 before you set out to make sure that it's not closed for a members-only event. 

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