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Special Features: Supporting the Vitality of Theatre

Special programs extend the boundaries of the Division beyond those of a basic research facility. Numerous projects and services bring scholarly research to the widest possible audience.


The Division regularly contributes materials to exhibitions throughout The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and often to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Exhibits on-site explore contemporary themes, honor noteworthy careers, or highlight new donations. Recent shows have focused on AIDS and the Theatre, Baseball in Silent Film, librettist Michael Stewart, songwriter Eubie Blake, actress Modjeska, and the caricatures of Al Hirschfeld.

Loan Program

Under special circumstances, the Division makes loans to other institutions for the programming of conferences or major exhibitions. Exhibitors are expected to meet museum standards of display, security, insurance, and art transport. Loan fees are usually charged.


Students, scholars, and community groups wishing to understand the behind-the-scenes challenge of preserving this important but ephemeral art may contact the Curator for onsite talks.

Documenting and Preserving Live Performance

Since 1970, the Theatre on Film and Tape Archive (TOFT) has been engaged in a unique documentation effort, recording Broadway, Off-Broadway, and regional theatre productions, and dialogues between notable theatre personalities. In accordance with its selection criteria, TOFT identifies outstanding productions and creates videotape records with the consent of the theatrical unions and each productions artistic collaborators. In addition, it facilitates preservation of live performances by assisting and supervising theatre companies that wish to videotape their own work under TOFTs auspices in accordance with its agreements with the theatrical unions. These projects ensure that todays performances will be tomorrows legacy, available to future generations for study and enjoyment. Endowed, in part, by producer Lucille Lortel, TOFT is housed in a state-of-the-art viewing room named in honor of Miss Lortel.