NEW YORK — "Before Hollywood," a traveling exhibition of more than 60 films from the silent era, many of which have not been seen publicly since their original turn-of-the-century release, has been set to tour the country starting early next year.
The exhibition of 68 films, some of which have been discovered or restored only recently, is due to premiere here at the Whitney Museum of American Art in January, then travel to museums in Boston, Dallas, Miami, St. Louis and Chicago. Plans call for screenings to be held in Los Angeles in April, probably under the co-sponsorship of the American Film Institute and the UCLA Film Archives, two of the major sources for the films selected for the exhibition.
"Many of these early films have been preserved or restored at public expense, but until now the public has had virtually no access to them," said Sam McElfresh, director of the film program at the American Foundation of the Arts.
McElfresh said the films chosen for the exhibit span the years 1895-1915, the first two decades of cinema, and range in length from several seconds to 90 minutes. He said they will be seen in new 35-millimeter prints, with live piano accompaniment. After the initial tour, the exhibition will travel indefinitely in the United States and abroad, with 16-millimeter prints accompanied by a recorded sound track.