Intertwined with American History:
Carnegie Hall History Preserved in Thousands of Theatre Programs
The Carnegie Hall Archives was established in 1986, in anticipation of the Hall’s 100th anniversary. “A formal decision was made to establish an archive with the goal to curate retrospective exhibitions and to document past, present, and future events,” says Gino Francesconi, Director of the Archives.
The theatre programs formed the basis of the collection at the start, dating back to the first performance at the “Music Hall” on May 5, 1891 with a concert by Tchaikovsky.
NEDCC began working with the Carnegie Hall Archives in 2009 with a Collection Condition Assessment prior to the Archives moving into a renovated space within the building. Guided by recommendations identified in the assessment report, the Archives developed a programmatic approach to the preservation of the collections, including improvements in housing and storage conditions, environmental controls, security procedures, and emergency preparedness.
Since 2012, NEDCC has been treating and digitizing the theatre programs in batches, starting with 1891 and continuing to the present. Some of the early programs were unbound, so the treatment was completed in the Center’s Paper Conservation Laboratory.
The bound volumes were treated in the Center's Book Conservation Laboratory where they were carefully collated, disbound, treated, and rehoused. “Groups of programs had been commercially bound into thick volumes, and the methods and materials used were often damaging. In some cases, the spine folds of the programs were cut away and the programs were oversewn. As a result, the text was inaccessible."
The programs were digitized in NEDCC's Digital Imaging studios following conservation treatment. The high quality digital images will be available in fall 2018 when Carnegie Hall launches a beta Digital Collections site on the main Carnegie Hall website.
Learn More and View the Slideshow . . .