Montreal. 1955. A 13-year-old boy scrounges together the money he’s earned from various jobs – making pharmacy deliveries, educational tutoring, setting pins at the bowling alley – and his bar mitzvah and purchases a $200 Admiral television set for his family. On the first night he stays up late watching it, his eyes fixed to the moving pictures that, until then, were only accessible at the local movie theatre.
“I had this really crisp realization that this was revolutionary because it was coming to me,” says Moses Znaimer, Canadian media mogul and Founder and CEO of ZoomerMedia (which encompasses multiple platforms including Vision TV and Zoomer magazine) when recalling that childhood moment. “I didn’t have to go to it…and it was in perpetual flow.”
On Thursday, nearly six decades after purchasing his first TV, Znaimer unveiled the MZ Museum of Television – a massive display of some of the more than 400 pre- and post-war television sets he’s collected since the mid-1960s.
“What Moses has put together here is a world-beater,” notes Jan Leman, a filmmaker who directed the documentary TV is King. “No amount of money could recreate what he’s done here ... There are more surviving violins and cellos built by Antonio Stradivari that survive in the world today than there are surviving televisions from 1939. That’s how rare these pieces are.”
Situated within the Zoomerplex in Toronto’s Liberty Village, the MZ Museum of Television boasts treasures such as television pioneer John Logie Baird’s first commercial set, Marilyn Monroe’s TV, and even Felix the Cat – “the first electronically televised image.” The Phantom Teleceiver – built with translucent Lucite to prove to skeptics at the 1939 World’s Fair that there was nothing devilish behind its fantastic moving pictures – resides there, across the room from the original Speaker’s Corner booth.
“If Moses only had the [pre-war TV’s] in the museum, he’d have probably the world’s finest collection,” television historian Michael Bennett-Levy says. “But he’s also got [duplicates]. It’s extraordinary. There’s nowhere else in the world that’s got it like this.”
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