NYPL Library of the Performing Arts

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There is little doubt that New York City is the center of the universe when it comes to the performing arts.

Home to Broadway, Lincoln Center, Off Broadway, and countless world-class dance, music, theater and opera companies, New York is a cultural mecca that inspires the rest of the world. The NYPL Library of the Performing Arts, a renowned research and historical institution in the heart of Manhattan, is a must-visit venue for anyone interested in the performing arts.

The Library of the Performing Arts is located in Lincoln Center at 66th Street and Broadway. Tucked behind the Metropolitan Opera House and adjacent to the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, the library is part of Lincoln Center’s beautiful campus, which features reflecting pools, statuary, plazas, a fountain and a slope of green grass available for relaxing.

The NYPL performing arts library, a branch of the NY Public Library system, functions much like any other library branch. For those wishing to learn more about the performing arts, you’ll find a treasure trove of inspiring information.

In addition to its huge collection of books, the library features a vast collection of videotaped productions, autographed manuscripts, programs, posters, sheet music, stage designs and press clippings. The materials in the various collections of the library are available to borrow free of charge (they even have short-term library cards for visitors).

The library is organized into five distinct divisions:

  • The Billy Rose Theatre Division
  • The Jerome Robbins Dance Division
  • The Music Division
  • The Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound
  • The Theatre and Film on Tape Division

Of particular interest to performing arts theater devotees is the last section. The Theatre and Film on Tape Division is an archive of Broadway shows, videotaped with their original casts. If you have a professional or academic reason to view one of the shows – and you must – you can explore the plethora of talents that have graced the stage over the years.

Special programs, exhibitions, seminars, and performances also contribute to the library’s spectrum of services. Luminaries like actors Cherry Jones and Frank Langella, choreographers Christopher Wheeldon and Merce Cunningham, and playwrights Edward Albee and David Henry Hwang are amongst the myriad of luminaries that have participated in the library’s lectures, panel discussions and presentations.

In all the visits we’ve made to the NYPL Library of the Performing Arts, we have found that the staff is eager to help and enthusiastic about sharing their vast and varied collections. For those of us who love the performing arts, this is a must-visit New York City institution.

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