WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian Institution is honoring Clint Eastwood on Wednesday for his six decades of work in American film, and the actor and director will cut the ribbon to open a new movie theater to showcase film history at the National Museum of American History.
Eastwood will visit the museum Wednesday evening to help dedicate the new Warner Bros. Theater as a space to present the history of Hollywood. Warner Bros. Entertainment donated $5 million in 2010 to renovate the museum’s old Carmichael Auditorium into a modern theater with 3D projection capability.
The new theater gives the Smithsonian its first space dedicated to film history, museum spokeswoman Melinda Machado. The 264-seat theater will be able to screen silent films and first-run movies.
“Films are an integral part of our culture and our daily lives,” said Marc Pachter, interim director of the museum.
Warner Bros. will help present four film festivals at the museum this year and into the future, Machado said. Most programs at the theater will be free to visitors, rather than charging for tickets as the Smithsonian does at its IMAX theaters.
On Friday, the museum will open a three-day film festival to highlight the work of Humphrey Bogart with free screenings of “Casablanca,” ”The Maltese Falcon” and other films.
Movie costumes also are going on display at the museum, including those worn by Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman and Eastwood, along with Harry Potter’s robe. The costumes are on loan from Warner Bros., along with animation drawings for Bugs Bunny and other memorabilia.
In a statement, Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer said the new theater will be a place to highlight the nation’s movie legacy.
“This partnership with the Smithsonian, whose very name signifies the gold standard for the preservation and presentation of all things with historical significance, is a great step toward reminding people that movies and television shows are an important part of our shared culture,” Meyer said.
Eastwood, 81, will be awarded the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal for his distinguished contributions in film. The award was established in 1965.