In 2021, after years of planning, the group behind the Oscars finally opened its long-planned museum on the history of moviemaking, and it's as lavish as you might expect. A full-size department store from 1939 has been converted into a six-level compendium celebrating how far film has come.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is governed by the entertainment industry's best, so the quality of the museum's exhibitions (which change regularly) matches that high level, from one-of-a-kind artifacts (the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and a full backdrop from Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest were among the inaugural displays), to special exhibitions about and/or curated by the greats, to an often uncompromising acknowledgment that the motion picture industry hasn't always treated people fairly.

Behind the main museum, celebrated architect Renzo Piano designed a giant orb that contains the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater (one of two theaters on the premises) that is capable of projecting even the rarest film types. The wise visitor to the Academy Museum will check the schedule in advance and time a trip to coincide with a Q&A or screening of something you're unlikely to see anywhere else. The top section of the orb, across the high-level Barbra Streisand Bridge (really!), is an open-air terrace that takes in a panorama of Hollywood and the greater Los Angeles area.

An up-charged activity (additional $15, reservations required), The Oscars Experience, allows you to hold an actual Oscar (they're surprisingly heavy) and record the moment on a video clip that's emailed to you.

This museum is next door to LACMA and across the street from the Petersen Automotive Museum, so it's easy to park once and see them all.

Click here for a full photo gallery of the inside of the museum and its highlights.

(Photo credit: Joshua White, JWPictures)