The Cinema Museum, London

History

Portrait of a young Ronald Grant operating a projector

Apprentice projectionist Ronald Grant, at work c.1953.

The Museum’s unique collection is the result of a lifelong fascination with cinema-going. Co-founder Ronald Grant began collecting as a child, and at the age of 15 he started work as an apprentice projectionist with Aberdeen Picture Palaces Ltd, an associated company of James F. Donald (Aberdeen Cinemas) Ltd. Ronald moved to London in the 1960s and worked at the British Film Institute and the Brixton Ritzy, but a fortuitous trip back to his home city led to him saving from destruction a significant quantity of artefacts from the James F. Donald cinemas. These memorabilia from Aberdeen remain at the heart of the collection. In the following audio clip, Ronald Grant talks about the Donald cinemas:

Listen: James F. Donald Aberdeen Cinemas

The collection grew far beyond its origins as an enthusiast’s treasure trove to become an extensive archive of historical and social importance, and Ronald Grant and Martin Humphries established the Cinema Museum in 1986 to safeguard its future. They have worked together throughout to build up and look after the collection, and continue to oversee the Museum to this day. It has been a long journey, but the enterprise has made tremendous progress, and it has attracted the help and goodwill of a great many cinephiles along the way.

As the Museum now establishes its permanent home in the Victorian magnificence of the old Lambeth Workhouse, where Charlie Chaplin spent time as a child, it is interesting to look back some of the successes and challenges of the past…

See also our archive of Past Events.

Workhouse Anniversary

January 2010 · History

In 1998, on the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s first stay in the Lambeth Workhouse, we created an exhibition about the Workhouse, Chaplin and his time in Lambeth.

Homes Past and Present

January 2010 · History

The Cinema Museum has had a number of homes since it was established in 1986…  

St. Albans – From Alpha To Odeon

January 2010 · History

In 1998 we contributed to an exhibition by the St. Albans Museum - ‘From Alpha To Odeon’ - covering film activity in the town. Alpha Films, which was based there early in the 20th century, was the company of Arthur Melbourne-Cooper, an important pioneer filmmaker.

Gloria Stuart’s Visit

January 2010 · History

In 1996 Gloria Stuart, born in 1910 and a leading film star in the 1930s, came to visit us at the Fire Station (one of our previous homes).

Ealing Studios Anniversary

January 2010 · History

In 1996 we were asked by Ealing Council to mount an exhibition in Ealing Town Hall to mark the anniversary of Ealing Studios.

Granada Studio Tour

January 2010 · History

A selection of photos from our exhibition at the Granada Studio Tour, Manchester, which ran from 1995 to 1998.

‘Blanche Sweet’ Planting

January 2010 · History

A commemorative planting, in 1995, of the lilac variety 'Blanche Sweet', named after the silent film star.

Le Giornate del Cinema Muto

January 2010 · History

A 1990 exhibition at the silent film festival in Pordenone, northern Italy.