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UCLA’s Film & Television archive has a classical yet state-of-the-art home at The Stoa in Santa Clarita

When you’ve got more than 450,000 films, TV shows and other moving image materials, almost all of them in their original photochemical or video formats, you’ve got to store all that stuff somewhere.

UCLA’s Film Television Archive does. And it keeps that vast and varied collection of films that date back from 1889 to recent blockbusters at a monumental facility in Santa Clarita that combines state-of-the-art preservation technology with awesome, classical beauty.

The archive moved its collection from locations in Hollywood and Westwood into the $200 million Stoa building in 2015. Financed by – and built to the specifications of – philanthropist, professor and Hewlett-Packard heir David W. Packard, the multi-winged edifice is designed to resemble the ancient Greek, multi-columned public porticoes it’s named for on the outside and Florence’s San Marco monastery on its white-walled, soaring-ceilinged interior.

The UCLA Film and Television Archive in Santa Clarita Friday, July 19, 2019. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Surrounded by 60 acres of rolling hills and heritage oaks and built with stone, tiles and other materials imported from Italy, the Stoa looks fit for a Caesar. Past its grand entryways decorated with massive, framed posters of “Vertigo” and “Thief of Baghdad,” displays of vintage cameras and a giant, George Hurrell photo of Greta Garbo, the guts of the place spread out to vanishing points of industrial/scientific glory.

“We have 120 vaults” for storing decomposition-prone and highly flammable nitrate film, the archive’s director Jan-Christopher Horak said as an elevator took us 35 feet underground.

“Not only is this more efficient for energy conservation, it stays cooler.”

Dr. Jan-Christopher Horak,

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