The Paley Center for Media, formerly The Museum of Television & Radio (MT&R) and The Museum of Broadcasting, founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, is a cultural institution dedicated to the discussion of the cultural, creative and social significance of television, radio and emerging platforms for the professional community and media-interested public.
It was renamed The Paley Center for Media on June 5, 2007 to encompass emerging broadcasting technologies such as the Internet, mobile video and podcasting, as well as to expand its role as a neutral setting where media professionals can engage in discussion and debate about the evolving media landscape.
With an ever-growing collection of content broadcast
, the Paley Center has two branches; in New York City
and Los Angeles
. The New York City branch is in the heart of Midtown Manhattan
at 25 West 52nd Street
and 6th Avenues
. The Los Angeles
branch is located at 465 Beverly Drive
in Beverly Hills
, near Rodeo Drive
The Paley Center for Media is committed to the idea that many television and radio programs are significant works and should be preserved for posterity's sake. Instead of collecting artifacts
, the Paley Center comprises mostly screening rooms, including two full-sized theaters. More than 120,000 television shows, commercials and radio programs are available in the Paley Center's library, and during each visit, viewers can select and watch, at individual consoles, shows totaling an hour in length. Radio programs are accessed through these same consoles.
Some television programs are from the 1940s with radio programs dating back to the 1920s. The earliest TV program in the Museum's collection is a silent film of NBC's 1939 production of Dion Boucicault's melodrama The Streets of New York (1857), with Norman Lloyd, George Coulouris and Jennifer Jones.
The museum does not sell the material or permit it to leave the premises. Viewing copies of television programs are Hi-8mm video tape dubs. The originals are kept in a vault outside of New York City, and the collection is being digitized. The Paley Center has acquired many lost episodes of classic television shows and has produced documentary features about the history and impact of television and radio. In recent years, the Center has sponsored advanced viewing of the pilot episodes of each network's new programs.
Seminars and screenings
Seminars and interviews with industry luminaries are conducted frequently, all of which are recorded and available for later viewing on individual consoles. Past seminar participants have included Lucille Ball
, Carol Burnett
, Dick Cavett
, Al Franken
, John Frankenheimer
, James Garner
, Bob Hope
, Roy Huggins
, Jack Paar
, Dennis Potter
, Dick Van Dyke
, and Gore Vidal
. Also available for viewing are seminars featuring creators and cast members from TV shows, including The Larry Sanders Show
, King of the Hill
, The Simpsons
and South Park
Panel discussions have varied from what it was like to work with Orson Welles to a celebration of Roy Huggins's career. Screenings, exhibitions and events staged during the weekend of April 9, 1993 give an impression of the range and scope of subjects:
- Words and Images: The Writer on Radio and Television. The focus this weekend is on James Baldwin, Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes. Screenings this weekend are My Childhood (James Baldwin segment from 1964); Creativity With Bill Moyers: Maya Angelou (1982), and In the First Person: Langston Hughes (1950). Today through Sunday at 1 P.M. Preceded at 12:15 by a 40-minute overview of the exhibition, with Christopher Porterfield, a senior editor at Time. The series continues through July 3. Madison Avenue Meets Gasoline Alley: Automobile Advertising on Radio and Television. The series continues this weekend with "The Importance of Being Imports," which features commercials for Volkswagen, Honda, Mazda, Saab, Volvo, Nissan, Toyota and others. Today through Sunday at 12:30 P.M. The series runs through May 30. American Playhouse, focusing on the PBS series created in 1980. This weekend: Philip Roth's Ghost Writer (1985), about a young writer at a crossroads between pleasing his family and pursuing his career. With Sam Wanamaker and Claire Bloom. Today through Sunday at 2 P.M. Preceded at 1 P.M. by a video overview including interviews with the creators of American Playhouse: David Davis, executive director, and Lindsay Law, executive producer. Series continues through May 9. The Original Honeymooners, screenings of seven of the first Honeymooners sketches from Jackie Gleason's variety show Cavalcade of Stars, originally broadcast during the 1951-52 season and not seen publicly since. With Pert Kelton, the original Alice; Elaine Stritch, the original Trixie; Gleason as Ralph Kramden, and Art Carney as Ed Norton. Today at 12:30, 4 and 7 P.M.; tomorrow and Sunday at 12:30 and 4 P.M. Through June 13. The New York Philharmonic, a series focusing on the orchestra. This weekend, the Philharmonic musicians are spotlighted in Live From Lincoln Center: A New York Philharmonic Five-Star Evening (1990). Included in the program are interviews with soloists and the conductor Zubin Mehta, and the Philharmonic playing works by Beethoven, Haydn, Weber, Bizet and Ravel. Recreating Radio Workshops. Workshops are designed to introduce children ages 8 to 13 to the workings of classic radio programs. Participants are invited to read scripts and operate sound effects to bring stories to life. The performance is recorded, and later a free audiocassette is mailed to each child. This weekend, the theme is science fiction. Seating is limited, and reservations are strongly recommended. Tomorrow, 10 A.M. to 11:30 A.M., and every Saturday through June. Tickets: $5. Nolan Miller: Costume Design for Television, an exhibition featuring designs for celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Ann-Margret, Linda Evans, Joan Collins and Jaclyn Smith. Included are color illustrations for Carolyn Jones's Morticia costume from The Addams Family, two designs for Eva Gabor for Green Acres and designs for Dynasty. At the Steven Spielberg Gallery, on the main floor. Through May 29.
The original Museum of Broadcasting, founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, opened in Manhattan
on November 9
, occupying two floors in an office building at 1 East 53 Street (near the corner of 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue). The Museum of Broadcasting's name was changed to The Museum of Television & Radio with the September 12
move into the William S. Paley Building. This was the new eight-story Philip Johnson–designed building at 25 West 52nd Street (adjacent to the famed 21 Club
at 21 West 52nd Street), the same building that was renamed The Paley Center for Media in 2007. It has two front entrances: the one on the left is for office staff, and the main entrance on the right for the general public. The Alexander Mackendrick
film Sweet Smell of Success
(1957) has an exterior location scene with different angles revealing how the neighborhood looked in the years before the building was constructed.
The ground-level floor of the New York museum features the ticket and information area, a combination bookstore/gift shop and the Steven Spielberg Gallery, used for exhibitions, receptions and fund-raising events. Reservations to use the Library are made at the front desk. In addition to the elevator, a staircase on the first floor leads down to the large basement-level theater. The fourth floor has numerous Macintosh computers, used by visitors to scan titles in the collection. When a selection is made, a visitor is given a print-out of titles and then takes the stairs to another floor, the Console Center, where TV monitors with headphones are separated into modular units. Visitors have control over playback functions. Within that floor is the smaller Scholars' Room, an enclosed area for use by researchers. Tapes are accessed by typing three-digit numbers from the print-out sheets into the monitors, sending a signal to the control room on another floor. Both radio programs and TV shows are sent to the monitors using this system. On another floor, visitors can hear pre-programmed channels in the Ralph Guild Listening Room, named for Ralph C. Guild, Chairman of the Board for Interep, the largest independent national sales and marketing organization specializing in radio, the Internet and new media. In the rear of the Listening Room is the museum's radio broadcasting studio.
The Museum of Television & Radio in Los Angeles at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, opened March 18, 1996 in a new building designed by Richard Meier and named for Leonard H. Goldenson. When the Los Angeles building opened, it featured a collection duplicated from the tapes in the New York collection. Rooms are named for the celebrity sponsors: the Danny Thomas lobby, the Aaron Spelling reception area and the Garry Marshall pool. Screenings are held in the 150-seat John H. Mitchell Theatre. The Ahmanson Radio Listening Room has headphones for use with five pre-programmed channels.
Television and radio shows are added to the collection after archival discoveries and through donations from individuals and organizations. In 2002, the Museum held a showing of the previously unseen rehearsal film of Rodgers and Hammerstein
telecast (March 17, 1957). This rehearsal was found in the CBS
vault while the Museum was on a quest for other "lost" Cinderella
materials. It was believed that, on the night of the live broadcast, the show was preserved on both kinescope
and then transmitted to the West Coast. Seeking either of these, a Museum researcher asked CBS to search their vaults. The CBS database listed three 16mm films featuring five-minute segments of Julie Andrews
. When the earliest one was brought from the CBS vault, it was discovered to be the full dress rehearsal.
The Center is also known for its many discoveries involving daytime game shows. Episodes of destroyed shows such as High Rollers, Celebrity Sweepstakes, The Money Maze, the Chuck Woolery version of Wheel of Fortune, To Say the Least and daytime Hollywood Squares episodes are all available for viewing in the library. Episodes of other game shows such as Tattletales, Let's Make a Deal and The Gong Show are also in the library.