As planned for several months, extensive renovations of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts got underway July 20. The $30 million project is expected to take two years to complete. According to NYPL's public relations office, circulating collections will remain open at the branch until Aug. 10, then move to the mid-Manhattan library branch (5th Ave. & 40th St.) for a reopening Aug. 24. The research collection closed at the Lincoln Center site July 20 but reopens Aug. 10 (at the Annex, 521 West 43rd St.).
In fall 2000 the whole library will reopen at Lincoln Center, with the venue to be renamed "The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center."
Lincoln Center offered a public relations launch party June 16, featuring opera diva Jessye Norman as a special guest. Eli Wallach & Anne Jackson were also on hand for the afternoon event.
According to spokesperson Alex Wang, the renovation will "reapportion the space, and there'll be an infrastructure for the latest information technologies, new wiring and networking for reference databases, as well as for personal computers."
Asked about the reason for the renovation, executive director Robert Marx told Backstage, "The library building doesn't really adequately hold us at this point. Our annual attendance is 400,000. This building wasn't designed to hold that many people. We're bursting at the seams."
The Lincoln Center library complex opened in 1965 and has been housing five collections: those of music collector Joseph Drexel, theatrical impresario David Belasco, the Dance Collection (established in 1944), Circulating Music materials, and the Rodgers & Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
For more information on the Library's renovation schedule, check out their website at http://www.nypl.org.
-- By David Lefkowitz