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Downtown Collection at the NYU Special Collections

Guide to the Downtown Collection at the NYU Special Collections.

Downtown Media Overview

The audiovisual material held in the NYU Special Collections is primarily contained in the library’s Downtown Collection, which documents the New York City arts scene c. 1974 -1995 (bulk) with audiovisual holdings that span 1965-present. Working across media, many downtown artists utilized new portable video technologies, low-budget film gauges, and new distribution technologies such as public access cable. At Fales, we have made a commitment to collect these often-neglected works.

At present the Collection holds more than 37,000 video recordings in all formats, 6,000 film elements (primarily 16mm, 8mm, and Super8mm), and 25,000 audio recordings in all formats. Film and electronic media may exist as artists’ completed works, production elements, documentation of arts events, performances and rehearsals, artist interviews, and appearances in mainstream media. Collections with significant film, video and audio holdings include: the Mabou Mines Archive, Creative Time Archive, Amos Poe Papers, Frank Moore Papers, Sylvere Lotringer Papers and Semiotext(e) Archive, Stuart Sherman Papers, Sarah J. Jacobson Papers, Jaime Davidovich Papers, David Wojnarowicz Papers, and the Gay Cable Network Archive, to name a select few.

Access to media material is restricted until preservation efforts are undertaken. Thanks to the development of the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation Department for Media, located in the lower level of NYU’s Bobst Library, hundreds of titles are preserved in-house every year. At the same time, generous financial support from the National Film Preservation Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Delmas Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other funding agencies, assist Fales on-going media preservation efforts.

Fales media is available for viewing/ listening in our reading room by appointment only. To locate media, look at the finding aid for the collection that interest you. In addition, Fales actively loans media material for screenings and/or exhibition, with works shown across the United States and throughout Europe.