Dylanologists, rejoice — the archives are going on display.
Starting May 10, 2022 — six years after the secret Bob Dylan Archives were revealed and acquired by the foundation of an Oklahoman billionaire — some 100,000 pieces of ephemera will be available to visit in Tulsa.
The opening of the Bob Dylan Center, announced on Wednesday, will include rare and never-before-seen lyric manuscripts, photographs, songs and footage, alongside a new “immersive film experience” and a “recreation of an authentic studio environment,” organizers said. Public admission information will be released later in the year, while a founding membership (limited to 250 people) is available now for $7,500.
The three-story center in the Tulsa arts district — designed by the architecture firm Olson Kundig — was founded by the American Song Archives and its backer, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which along with the University of Tulsa acquired Dylan’s archives for between $15 million and $20 million in 2016. (Originally appraised at more than $60 million, the bulk of the materials were donated.)
In announcing the acquisition, The New York Times called the troves “deeper and more vast than even most Dylan experts could imagine, promising untold insight into the songwriter’s work.” (And yet, of course: “Amid these mountains of paper, Mr. Dylan, the man, remains an enigma.”)
The George Kaiser Family Foundation, named for the oil and banking magnate and Democratic donor, also operates the Woody Guthrie Center down the street. An early hero of Dylan’s, Guthrie was born in Oklahoma, and Dylan, now 79, noted at the time that “it makes a lot of sense, and it’s a great honor” for their archives to be held together, alongside the foundation’s cache of Native American art.
George Kaiser said that he obtained the singers’ archives to facilitate both scholarly study and tourism, with hopes of revitalizing Tulsa. (The Guthrie and Dylan centers sit near the city’s Greenwood district, once known as Black Wall Street and the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the 1921 atrocity that has recently been revisited by journalists, historians and popular culture.)
As a tease along with its announcement, the Dylan Center also publicized the existence of what it called a “heretofore-unknown recording” of Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” captured at an East 3rd Street apartment in 1962. The song, with updated lyrics, was eventually released the following year on “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.”
Separately, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum in Miami said this week that it would host an exhibition titled “Retrospectrum,” featuring some 120 drawings, paintings and sculptures by Dylan, building on a collection that originally debuted in Shanghai. The show runs from Nov. 30 through April 17, 2022.