The Brooklyn Academy of Music Just Put 70,000 Art Objects Online

The extensive online archive spans 150 years of performance history.

by Nathaniel Ainley
Jul 17 2017, 7:30pm

Meryl Streep and Christopher Lloyd in the Chelsea Theater Center production "Happy End" during BAM Spring Series, 1977. Martha Swope © The New York Public Library. Images courtesy the BAM Hamm Archives.

Art nerds rejoice, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) just digitized their extensive archive of playbills, posters, and performance ephemera in a new online platform that allows users to browse 150 years of history at BAM. The Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive hosts 70,000 miscellaneous items that date all the way back to the theater's opening in 1857. Everything from press clippings to building photographs are organized into a series of categories and collections that users can navigate through in an easy-to-use online interface. You can sort through the archive's featured collections by season, year, company, production, or even a particular performer. The website has input hyperlinks that help users create their own personalized collection of archive materials.

Playbill for Edwin Booth's 'The Fool's Revenge, 1878
Playbill for Edwin Booth's "The Fool's Revenge," 1878

The platform launched last month after years of development and a $1 million grant from the Leon Levy Foundation, the same organization that helped fund the digital collection of the New York Philharmonic. Now, 40,000 individual artists, from the actors on stage to the lighting directors, are represented in BAM's new archive. You can look at images of Meryl Streep and Christopher Lloyd performing Happy End at the Chelsea Theater Center in 1977, or watch Christopher Walken play Chance Wayne in a 1975 production of Sweet Bird of Youth. In addition to the visual assets, the BAM archive also features a trove of audio and video recordings.

Illustration of the Brooklyn and Long Island Sanitary Fair, 1864. Images courtesy of BAM Hamm Archives
Illustration of the Brooklyn and Long Island Sanitary Fair, 1864

Click here to check out the Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive yourself.


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