The Motion Picture Association's New DC Office Is Also a Secret Movie Museum

And this spring, they'll be launching a series of open houses for the viewing public

January 30, 2020 9:55 am
jack valenti mpa headquarters
The presence of Jack Valenti looms large over the new HQ of the Motion Picture Association in DC

Look, your office might be pretty nice. Nespresso machine in the kitchen, foosball table in the break room, coffers full of KIND Bars and Skinny Pop. But it doesn’t have the De-Atomizer Double Barrel Standard Issue Gun from Men in Black II, the original costume Christopher Reeve wore in Superman or the massive diamond necklace that old Rose hurls into the ocean at the end of Titanic

The new DC headquarters of the Motion Picture Association, on the other hand, has all those things.

Officially reopened as of October, the new location is just steps from the White House and Lafayette Park at 1600 I (Eye) Street NW. The new space includes a state-of-the-art theater with expanded seating capacity, an event venue with floor-to-ceiling windows and a museum-style exhibit featuring props, costumes and memorabilia from iconic films and television shows.

“This is an incredible moment for the Motion Picture Association,” said Motion Picture Association Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin. “Our new home celebrates our historic past, while allowing us to move forward, innovate, and advocate on behalf of the dynamic film, television, and streaming content industry. From premiere screenings to events with elected officials to community events for local artists and students, this building is where Hollywood and Washington will meet.”

The Archives

The MPA’s first-floor event space as well as the staff offices on the eighth floor are festooned with iconic memorabilia from films and television shows representing each of the association’s member studios: Disney, Netflix, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. Each piece is housed in a museum-quality display case, and the MPA says new pieces will be rotated in periodically.

A number of props from Titanic are on display at the new MPA office
gary Landsman

While you can’t just waltz in and see the Sorting Hat from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at your leisure, according to an MPA spokesperson, the exhibit will be open to the public via a series of open houses, with the first one planned for sometime between this month and March. 

For those lucky enough to get a tour, some of the items currently on display include the Dundie Trophy from season seven of The Office, the Batman Cowl worn by George Clooney in 1997’s Batman & Robin, the iconic green coat worn by Will Ferrell as Buddy The Elf, the Liberty Bell used by Nicholas Cage in National Treasure and a Gucci jacket worn by Taron Egerton in Rocketman. Check out the full list here

The Theater

Back in 1969 a small, 70-seat theater was built for the MPA as part of a larger Brutalist-style structure. Back then, with the legendary Jack Valenti at the helm, the theater was described by The New York Times as “one of the most exclusive invitations in Washington.” Screenings were attended by presidents, first ladies and top politicians, such as Lady Bird Johnson, President Gerald Ford, Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Eventually the theater was upstaged by larger, more modern venues, including one at the Newseum which sadly and ironically just shuttered its doors for good. The MPA was also restricted from holding the intimate gatherings with lawmakers that were common during the Valenti era due to lobbying rules passed in 2007. But now the MPA has its own shiny new state-of-the-art theater in which to host guests.

The glorious new screening room at MPA Headquarters
gary Landsman

Film screenings in the new theater, which seats up to 118 people and has impressive 4K capabilities, remain invite-only. The MPA often hosts local film students at screenings and panel discussions with producers, actors, and movie executives. Recently, students from D.C.’s Richard Wright Public Charter School for Journalism and Media Arts toured the exhibit and met with MPA leaders.

If you are able to snag a coveted invite, make sure to check out the rooftop lounge and terrace, which offer views of the White House and the Washington Monument. In fact, when staff from the MPA first went out on the new rooftop, the building management at the time got a phone call from the White House. “Because the corner, ironically, has a view between the back of the Hay-Adams and the adjacent U.S. Chamber building,” says Jordan Goldstein to BizJournals, a principal and global design director for Gensler, the designers of the space. “You’re literally looking right into the West Wing.”

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