Monday, November 30, 2009

Lincoln Center Exhibit: Celebrating 50 Years

OCTOBER 15, 2009 - JANUARY 16, 2010

After nearly five decades of artistic excellence and service, Lincoln Center has embarked upon a major transformation initiative to fully modernize its concert halls and public spaces, renew its 16-acre urban campus, and reinforce its vitality. The complex, bordered by Columbus (9th Ave.), 62nd St., Amsterdam (10th Ave.), 66th St. and Broadway, includes the Juilliard School and Damrosch Park in addition to fines arts spaces (Jazz at Lincoln Center is south of the main campus, at 60th St and Broadway, Columbus Circle). Thirteen arts organizations are in residence at Lincoln Center.

To that end, the first exhibition to focus on the evolution and influence of America’s first performing arts center, “Lincoln Center: Celebrating 50 Years” features a collection of some 400 historic and contemporary objects: photographs, correspondence, costumes, set pieces, props and video recordings.

Images and memorabilia from the May 14, 1959 groundbreaking ceremony, including a signed photograph of President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the site as well as the shovel he wielded at the event, are among the items on display. A selection of architectural renderings and photographed models offer a full look at Lincoln Center’s architecture and planning from the original vision of the late 1950s to the current revitalization projects now underway. Rare performance images, video excerpts and personal correspondences are on display, including Leonard Bernstein, Beverly Sills, Julius Rudel, John D. Rockefeller, George Balanchine, Pierre Boulez, Rudolph Bing, Placido Domingo, Leontyne Price, Luciano Pavarotti, James Levine, Lorin Maazel, Wynton Marsalis and Jessye Norman, among many others.

The landmark performances and commissions that have come to define Lincoln Center as one of the world’s leading performing arts centers are documented in photographs and set pieces as well as signed scores, programs, memorabilia and selections of costumes and set designs. Behind-the-scenes photographs, video clips and documents illuminate Lincoln Center’s historic and continuing dedication to innovative technology. From its pioneering role in introducing opera super-titles to its award winning broadcast series Live From Lincoln Center and The Met: Live in HD, Lincoln Center’s pursuit of state-of-the-art technology has been and continues to be a vital ingredient in Lincoln Center’s defining synthesis of innovation and tradition.

Lincoln Center’s strong commitment to arts education is also highlighted. Photographs of artists who trained and studied at Lincoln Center include a youthful Martin Scorsese (winner at the Film Society’s first National Student Film Festival in 1965), a young Darci Kistler in class at the School of American Ballet with teacher Suki Schorer, as well as Kevin Kline and Patti LuPone during their Juilliard years. Also on view are student art work and letters as well a listing of musical cues for a 1962 Young People’s Concert notated front and back with Leonard Bernstein’s own edits.

The Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center is located at 40 Lincoln Center Plaza (between the Metropolitan Opera House and the Vivian Beaumont Theater; see map below). Exhibition hours through January 16, 2010, are Monday and Thursday from 12:00 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; closed Sundays and holidays. Admission is free. For exhibition information, call 212.870.1630 or visit the Library’s website at

On October 1, 2009, the Lincoln Center Revson Fountain, the centerpiece of Josie Robertson Plaza, returned to a fully functioning state. WET Design, the company responsible for the landmark fountain display at Bellagio Las Vegas, redesigned the Philip Johnson original fountain. A ring of water jets that can rise 12 feet high “dances” at various heights and configurations. High pressure water cannons shoot columns of (recycled!) water up to 40 feet into the air.