|A Benny Goodman Clarinet on display at Rose Museum|
A RARE EXPERIENCE Visit the Rose Museum and, as if by magic, you will experience a rare and wonderful world where more than a century of musical history connected with the Hall are on display. The permanent collection is rich with archival material; from signed photographs to letters and musical quotes from artists of the day, while unique memorabilia include conductor batons and musical instruments.
WHY “ROSE MUSEUM?” Kudos for their largess and appreciation of the musical arts goes to the Susan and Elihu Rose Foundation, which funded the Rose Museum that tells the story of the building and the events that made it famous. The Museum opened in 1991 as part of Carnegie Hall’s 100th anniversary celebration. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962. The Museum is open to the public Thursday-Tuesday from 11am-4:30pm and available to concert patrons in the evenings.
MEMORABILIA This treasure trove showcases more than 2,500 feet of archives and more than a century of concert programs that recall the concerts, lectures and other events that have appeared onstage at the Hall, including the history of the building itself up through the 1986 renovations. Stars of yesteryear have their due recognition; materials related to notable tenants of the studios above the stage include Leonard Bernstein and Marlon Brando and the batons of Toscanini and von Karajan.
CELEBRITY SIGHTINGS The Museum also displays a sequined jacket owned and worn by Judy Garland, a ring owned by Beethoven, a pair of Johannes Brahms’s eyeglasses, one of Richard Strauss’ notebooks and one of Benny Goodman’s clarinets. Beatle fans seek out the autographed program of the Beatles’ landmark 1964 concert at the Hall, but there is much, much more to captivate your interest.
STEWARD OF THE ARCHIVES Hired in 1986 to gather memorabilia for Carnegie’s 1991 centennial, the venerable hall’s first and only archivist and director of its Rose Museum, Gino Francesco has remained faithful to his responsibilities at the Museum. Now his new challenge is the preservation and digitization of the 300,000 programs, fliers, ticket stubs, scrapbook, letters, recordings that have been amassed from some 50,000 events in Carnegie’s three concert spaces.
FRANCESCONI’S DESTINY Mr. Francesconi’s love affair with music took the San Francisco native to New York, destination Carnegie Hall, where he began as an usher and progressed to backstage attendant. Although he had set his heart on becoming a conductor and even went to Italy for serious study, the fickle hand of fate drew him back to Carnegie where plans were underway for the centennial celebration. While he had no training as an archivist he took courses at the Library of Congress and elsewhere and made the role of archivist his life ambition.
ARCHIVAL TASK The formidable task ahead of Mr. Francesconi was fueled by the fact that Carnegie Hall did not have an established archive. He honed his skills and acquired a wide variety of memorabilia, through a creative publicity outreach initiative that encouraged people to send in their posters, concert programs and letters recalling the Hall’s historical past. At last count collectibles are still showing up and, under the masterful direction of Mr. Francesconi , they become part of the historical record.
The Rose Museum has video footage and kiosk displays that augment the round-the- room windowed archives. 212.903.9629.
Polly's Book: The Cooper-Hewitt Dynasty of New York, History Press 2012