On Thursday morning, the NYPL announced that their Library for the Performing Arts has acquired Lou Reed's archives. Artist and musician Laurie Anderson was on hand for the announcement, which was made on what would have been Lou Reed's 75th birthday.
"The archive is a panoramic picture of Lou’s music, pictures, friendships, writing, tai chi and performances as well as a recreation of the scenes and cities he worked in and loved," said Anderson, Reed's widow. "What better place to have this than in the heart of the city he loved the best? It takes a while to see a life as a whole and now that the first step of the archive is complete we can step back and begin to see some dazzling new patterns in the work Lou made in his long and intense life as an artist."
The musician's complete archives include thousands of items:
The Lou Reed Archive measures approximately 300 linear feet of paper records, electronic records, and photographs, and approximately 3,600 audio and 1,300 video recordings. The Archive documents the history of Reed’s life as a musician, composer, poet, writer, photographer, and tai-chi student through his own extensive papers, photographs, recordings and other collections of materials.
The archive spans Reed’s creative life—from his 1958 Freeport High School band, The Shades, his job as a staff songwriter for the budget music label, Pickwick Records, and his rise to prominence through The Velvet Underground and subsequent solo career, to his final performances in 2013. The collection comprises studio notes, galleys and proofs, master and unreleased recordings, business papers, personal correspondence, poster art, fan gifts, rare printed material and Reed’s substantial photography collection.
The archive's formation was "initiated and guided" by Anderson, whose primary goal was to keep everything together and in New York City. “Lou is kind of Mr. New York,” Anderson said. “This is the city he loved the most. It doesn’t make any sense for him to be anywhere else. Then, what’s the best place in New York? This is the best place in New York.”
Independent archivist Don Fleming "oversaw the acquisition and worked with Reed’s two archivists, Jason Stern and Jim Cass, to create a detailed catalog of the extensive materials." Many of the items had been sitting in storage for decades before Reed's death in 2013.
The Library will also host free displays and public programs over the next two weeks to celebrate and showcase Reed's life and work, starting today, both at the Library for the Performing Arts and Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.
At the top of every hour throughout the day, the Library for the Performing Arts will play an excerpt of a different Reed recording in its Cafe. Displays of ephemera also open today at the Library for the Performing Arts and the Schwarzman Building, on view through March 20th. These displays present a selection of personal artifacts, notebooks, correspondence, and other materials to the public for the first time ever.
The celebration continues at two special public events: a performance of The Raven and Reed's poetry at the Library for the Performing Arts on March 13th, and a performance of Drones at the Schwarzman Building on March 15th. Both events are free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.
Find more information at nypl.org/loureed. Here's the late musician speaking at the NYPL in 2009: