'New York, New Music: 1980-1986' at Museum fo City of New York - Rolling Stone
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New York City’s Music in the 1980s at Museum of the City of New York Exhibit

museum of the city of new york music in the 1980smuseum of the city of new york music in the 1980s

Brad Farwell/Museum of the City of New York

The new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, located along Manhattan’s “Museum Mile,” features Madonna, MTV, Run-DMC, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth, John Zorn, Liquid Liquid, Max Roach, Fort Apache Band, and much more.

“During the Eighties, there was a community-driven musical renaissance in New York City. It was an era of creativity and genre-defying performance that, in my mind, stands as one of the most influential in musical and cultural history,” says Sean Corcoran, the museum’s curator of prints and photography. “That wide range of music –from no wave to pop to hip-hop to salsa to jazz, mixed in a dynamic arts scene that stretched across clubs and bars, theaters, parks, and art spaces– provided fertile ground for a musical revolution — one that continues to influence pop culture to this day.”

“The early 1980s were a time of significant transition in New York, with the city facing crime, urban decay, and homelessness. And yet, despite those challenges, it was also a particularly fertile time for music and other creativity in New York City,” says Whitney Donhauser, the director and president of the Museum of the City of New York. “The musical innovations of this time period are a great example of the resilience of the city and the importance of art and creativity as forces of transformation.”

New YorkNew Music: 1980-1986 is organized around a series of key “moments” and features more than 350 objects, including video footage, photography, artifacts, and ephemera. such as:

  • Photographs by Janette Beckman, Martha Cooper, Joe Conzo, William Coupon, Bob Gruen, Laura Levine, Ebet Roberts, Chris Stein and others
  • Flyers for Beastie Boys; Bad Brains; Sonic Youth; Teenage Jesus; The Feelies; and Gray and DNA at CBGB
  • An MTV Music Awards Moon Person Award Statue
  • Vinyl Records from Madonna, Funky 4+1, Liquid Liquid, and Konk
  • A Zoot Suit and hat worn by Kid Creole
  •  A t-shirt and other ephemera from Keith Haring and DJ Larry Levan’s “Party of Life” event at Paradise Garage
  • Guitars from Tim Wright, Arto Lindsay, and Richard McGuire
  • “Merman” costume worn by Joey Arias in “Mermaids on Parade” at Danceteria
  • Music videos and rare concert footage including Grand Master FlashFort Apache Band; Lounge Lizards; Cyndi Lauper; and more



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