After two years of cataloging and preparing, the Lou Reed Archive at the New York Public Library’s performing arts branch at Lincoln Center opens to the public on Friday. And to celebrate, the library is issuing 6,000 limited-edition library cards featuring an image of Reed taken by Mick Rock in 1972.
The library acquired the archive — a large collection of notes, photographs, and more than 600 hours of recordings — after the rocker’s wife, Laurie Anderson, decided to share it with an institution that could preserve and showcase it.
Before Reed died in 2013, he had never discussed what to do with his belongings, Anderson said in a phone interview.
A part of her wanted to hold onto them, but another part of her thought those traces of Reed should be accessible to young musicians and anyone interested in the history of the man behind the sunglasses. Plus, there were so many books and profiles out there that had tried to define the musician.
“It’s very important to be able to present raw material and let people make up their own minds,” Anderson said.
Fans may rush to concert posters or his personal collection of LPs, but Anderson said his drawings about tai chi are particularly interesting. “A lot of people don’t actually realize the importance of that in his life,” she added.
New York always found its way into the musician’s songs. And with this archive, Anderson said, “He’s become a part of the city, in a way.”