The Museum maintains the nation's largest and most comprehensive collection of artifacts relating to the art, history, and technology of the moving image—one of the most important collections of its kind in the world. Begun at the Museum's inception in 1981, today the collection numbers approximately 125,000 artifacts.
This rich and extensive collection is an invaluable resource for both the general public and for scholars, benefiting anyone who takes an interest in the history and culture of the moving image. Artifacts include: technical apparatus, still photographs, licensed merchandise, design materials, costumes, fan magazines, publicity materials of all kinds, video and computer games, and historical movie theater furnishings. Over 1,200 of these objects are currently on display in the Museum's core exhibition, Behind the Screen.
The collection is constantly growing as collectors, studios, manufacturers, and industry workers donate new artifacts. The Museum loans objects from its collection to other cultural institutions, and images of artifacts in the collection have been used in textbooks, films, and for a wide range of research projects.
The Internet and advances in digital technology have allowed the Museum to reach a significant new audience. Grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) have supported the Museum's online collection catalog.