The New York Public Library has opened an archive dedicated to pioneering alternative rock legend and Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed.
The library acquired the archive after performance artist and musician Laurie Anderson, who was married to Reed, decided to share it with an institution that could preserve and showcase the archive.
Anderson told the New York Times of the archive, “It’s very important to be able to present raw material and let people make up their own minds.”
She says Reed never discussed what to do with his belongings before his death in 2013, but believes the archive should be accessible to young musicians and anyone interested in his life.
The Lincoln Center branch of the New York Public Library acquired the Reed archive from Anderson in 2017 and with it “approximately 300 linear feet of paper records, electronic records, and photographs, and approximately 3,600 audio and 1,300 video recordings,” the library stated.
“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 New York Public Library said.
The collection opened last Friday, 15 March at the Lincoln Center branch. Reed’s 1989 LP New York, currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, will be highlighted as part of a display running now through to 28 March. On that same day, for one day only, the library’s Vincent Astor Gallery will convert into the Lou Reed Listening Room, giving visitors access to the unreleased recordings from the Velvet Underground singer.
The New York Public Library is also offering a limited run 6,000 library cards boasting the photographer Mick Rock’s iconic image of Reed seen on the cover of 1972’s Transformer. New York residents can visit the official NYPL site for more information on the card.
Explore Our Velvet Underground Artist Page.