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Downtown Collection at the Fales Library: Downtown Collection Overview

Guide to the Downtown Collection at the Fales Library at New York University

Downtown Collection

The Downtown Collection, which was founded in 1994, documents the downtown arts scene that evolved in SoHo and the Lower East Side during the 1970s and through the early 1990s. 

During this time, an explosion of artistic creativity radically challenged and changed traditional literature, music, theater, performance, film, activism, dance, photography, video and other art practices. 

Some characteristics that these artists share include work that was extremely collaborative, multidisciplinary, multimedia, and non-hierarchical. The goal of the Downtown Collections is to comprehensively collect the full range of artistic practices and output of the Downtown scene, regardless of format. 


This research collection, built on a documentary strategy, supports the research of students and scholars who are interested in the intersection of the contemporary arts with other   forms of cultural and artistic expression. 

The Downtown Collection includes the personal papers of artists, filmmakers, writers and performers; archives of art galleries, theater groups and art collectives; and collections relating to AIDS activism, music, and off-off Broadway theater. The Collection also includes a significant amount of printed, published materials either by or related to people associated with the scene and the events of the period, and its effect on wider social and cultural movements. These materials can be located using Bobcat; for archival materials, please browse the findings aids associated with this collection, either via the search portal or using the tab in this guide

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NYU Libraries' online catalog.