New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Edification value
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Should you go?
Time spent 54 minutes
Best thing I saw or learned Given my weakness for fancy-dressed skeletons, I was tempted to pick the Red Death costume from “Phantom.” But I will instead say Julie Taymor’s  costume/puppet designs from the Lion King are the best thing currently at the library, and still the best thing (visually) on Broadway.

The New York Public Library’s branch at Lincoln Center is easy to overlook, tucked in between the Met and the Vivian Beaumont Theater.  It puts on a number of free exhibitions throughout the year, and has a fairly large space for doing so.  I saw a great show celebrating the 45th anniversary of Sesame Street there a few years back.

I mentioned in my Schomburg Center review how much I respect the library’s curators for their ability to bring documents to life and build good shows around them.  The Performing Arts library is more of the same, except they sometimes (like now) have exhibitions that have a good deal more visual pizazz, too. 

Currently the library is celebrating the last 40 years of theater/theatre, featuring plays and musicals that have won both Tony (in the US) and Olivier (in the UK) Awards.  They’ve got set designs and models, video clips, and a goodly number of costumes on display, among other things. 

They’ve got kinky boots, a set model from An Inspector Calls, Lion King and Phantom of the Opera costumes, and even Mary Poppins. 

They also have an illustration of the lighting board for the original A Chorus Line, the first show to use computerized lighting capabilities (these days I think they can do it all on an iPad),

Pretty fun, even if you’re not especially a theater (or theatre) geek.

There are a couple of other small exhibition spaces within the library, too, as well as an auditorium, and they recently opened a cafe as well, handy if you’re at Lincoln Center and don’t want to stray too far to get a beverage.

This branch of the library is open til 8PM on Mondays and Thursdays only, making it challenging to go pre-theater or concert.  If you happen to be there on the right day, or if you’re going for a matinee, I strongly recommend allowing a little extra time and stopping in.

For Reference:

Address 40 Lincoln Center Plaza (65th St and Columbus Ave), Manhattan