Proving the Academy is serious about getting top-drawer content for its new Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures, AMPAS has added a biggie by successfully bidding $344,000 yesterday for a rare visual-effects model of the Aries 1B Trans-Lunar Space Shuttle used in shooting 2001: A Space Odyssey.  

Pete HammondMost of the props, sets, costumes and models for this landmark 1968 film were purposely destroyed by director Stanley Kubrick to keep them from being used in other movies. This model survived because it was given in the 1970s to an art teacher under an agreement to remove the electronics from the shuttle and teach about the technology to his students.

AcademyMuseumSketch__130411221133The Academy is clearly hitting the auction trail to find some of these gems, even as they continue raising money to build the museum, which is targeted to open in late 2017. Actual groundbreaking at the former May Co. building at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard is scheduled to get under way this summer, pending approvals.

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After all, what good is a museum if you have got nothing in it worth seeing? But it shows the difficulty of trying to gather so much of Hollywood’s iconic past. Much of the best stuff has been sold off to collectors around the world. Gathering it back will be is a Herculean task but it looks like it is game on  for the AMPAS museum to become a real player.

2001The Academy, which also counts a pair of Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers from The Wizard Of Oz  as part of their nascent collection, scored this one-of-a-kind item at yesterday’s Premiere Props Hollywood Extravaganza Auction.

Premiere Props bills itself as “the world’s largest Entertainment Memorabilia Store” and holds continuous auctions, but this was one of their major efforts.  Among other items on the block were a fan’s autograph book with signatures of all four Beatles; Brad Pitt‘s stunt Bowie knife from Inglourious Basterds, lots of costumes, a motorcyle from Sucker Punch and a rare vacuum prop that Alec Guiness used in 1960’s Our Man In Havana. 

The model is described as the SFX model of the Pan-Am Nuclear-Powered Aries 1B Trans-Lunar Spherical Space Shuttle. It was used in the movie as it transports Dr. Heywood R. Floyd (William Sylvester) from the International Space Station to the Moon. The actual model is the one seen as the spacecraft extends its landing gear and sets down on the open domed platform on the moon surface. The item is reported to be in “amazingly good condition” and includes all four 76 Mk 14 maneuvering secondary  thrusters, grouped in four sets of four 19.125-Kg single-thruster engines, with blast detectors. It measures approximately 32 inches high, 27 wide and 28 deep, and has a diameter of 94 inches.

And with this, the Academy Museum Of Motion Pictures continues to blast off itself.