Brooklyn Academy of Music

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is a performing arts venue in Brooklyn, New York City, known as a center for progressive and avant-garde performance. It presented its first performance in 1861 and began operations in its present location in 1908.

Brooklyn Academy of Music
BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building (2019)
Address30 Lafayette Avenue (Peter Jay Sharp)
651 Fulton Street (Harvey)
321 Ashland Place (Fisher)
LocationBrooklyn, New York
Public transit Long Island Rail Road: Atlantic Branch at Atlantic Terminal
New York City Subway: at Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center
at Fulton Street
at Lafayette Avenue
TypePerforming arts center
CapacityHoward Gilman Opera House: 2,109
Lepercq Space: 350
Harvey Theater: 874
Fishman Space: 250
Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)
Location30 Lafayette Avenue
Brooklyn, New York City
ArchitectHerts & Tallant
Architectural styleRenaissance Revival[1]
NRHP reference #06000251[2]
Added to NRHPMay 2, 2006

Katy Clark has been president since 2015[3] and David Binder became artistic director in 2019.[4]


19th and early 20th centuries

Founded in 1861, the first BAM facility at 176–194 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights was conceived as the home of the Philharmonic Society of Brooklyn. The building, designed by architect Leopold Eidlitz, housed a large theater seating 2,109, a smaller concert hall, dressing and chorus rooms, and a vast "baronial" kitchen. BAM presented amateur and professional music and theater productions, including performers such as Ellen Terry, Edwin Booth, and Fritz Kreisler.

After the building burned to the ground on November 30, 1903,[5] plans were made to relocate to a new facility in the then fashionable neighborhood of Fort Greene. The cornerstone was laid at 30 Lafayette Avenue in 1906 and a series of opening events were held in the fall of 1908 culminating in a grand gala evening featuring Geraldine Farrar and Enrico Caruso in a Metropolitan Opera production of Charles Gounod's Faust. The Met presented seasons in Brooklyn, featuring star singers such as Caruso, until 1921.

It was also used for religious services during the early 1900s. Charles Taze Russell, founder of the bible students movement (now Jehovah's Witnesses and International Bible Students Association), gave sermons there the first Sunday of the month from 1908 until 1912.

BAM is adjacent to downtown Brooklyn, near the Long Island Rail Road's Atlantic Terminal, the Barclays Center arena, and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, once the tallest building in Brooklyn. BAM is part of the Brooklyn Cultural District.[6]


In 1967, Harvey Lichtenstein was appointed executive director and during his 32 years in that role, BAM experienced a turnaround,[7] attracting audiences with new programming and establishing an endowment.[8] BAM, a multi-venue cultural center, hosts the annual Next Wave Festival in the fall. It began in 1983, and features performances by international and American artists.[9] Its Winter/Spring season[10] of theater, dance, and music is presented from January through June. Humanities, education, and events for children take place throughout the year, plus first-run and repertory films and series. From 1999 to 2015, Karen Brooks Hopkins[11] was president and Joseph V. Melillo was executive producer through 2018.[12]

Artists who have presented work at BAM include Philip Glass, Trisha Brown, Peter Brook, Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Laurie Anderson, Lee Breuer, ETHEL, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Steve Reich, Seal, Mark Morris, Robert Wilson, Peter Sellars, BLACKstreet, Ingmar Bergman, Ralph Lemon, Ivo van Hove, and the Mariinsky Theater, directed and conducted by Valery Gergiev, among others. Lichtenstein gave a home to the Chelsea Theater Center, in residence from 1967–77. Another regular event is BAMcinemaFest,[13] a festival focusing on independent films.


BAM's facilities include:

The Peter Jay Sharp Building houses the Howard Gilman Opera House and the BAM Rose Cinemas (formerly the Carey Playhouse). It was designed by the firm Herts & Tallant in 1908. It is a "U" shaped building with an open court in the center of the lot between two theater wings above the first story. The building has a high base of gray granite with cream colored brick trimmed in terra cotta with some marble detail above. It is located within the Fort Greene Historic District.[14] The Howard Gilman Opera House has 2,109 seats and BAM Rose Cinemas[15], which opened in 1998, comprises four screens, and shows first-run, independent and repertory films and series.[16]

Also within the Peter Jay Sharp Building is the Lepercq Space[17], originally a ballroom and now a flexible event space which houses the BAMcafé, and the Hillman Attic Studio, a flexible rehearsal/performing space.[18]

The 874-seat BAM Harvey Theater, formerly known as the Majestic Theater, was built in 1904 as a 1,708 seat theater, which eventually showed vaudeville and then feature films[19], and was named in Lichtenstein's honor in 1999[20]. A renovation by architect Hugh Hardy left the interior paint faded, with often exposed masonry, giving the theater a unique feel of a "modern ruin." In April 2014, CNN named the BAM Harvey as one of the "15 of the World's Most Spectacular Theaters".[21] Today, the BAM Harvey has become a top choice of venues at BAM among directors and actors for presenting traditional theater.[22]

The BAM Fisher Building[23], opened in 2012, contains Fishman Space, a 250-seat black box theater, and Fisher Hillman Studio, a flexible rehearsal and performance space[24], as well as administrative offices. The BAM Hamm Archives is located off-site in Crown Heights at 1000 Dean St. and maintains the publicly accessible Levy Digital Archive.

The BAM Sharp and Fisher Buildings are located within the Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District[25] created by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1978; the BAM Harvey is not.[26]

See also


  1. New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S.; Postal, Matthew A. (2009), Postal, Matthew A. (ed.), Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.), New York: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.243
  2. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  3. Pogrebin, Robin (April 9, 2015). "Brooklyn Academy of Music Chooses New President". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  4. Paulson, Michael (February 7, 2018). "Broadway Producer Named BAM’s New Artistic Director". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  5. Sharon (September 5, 2011). "BAM blog: Introducing The BAM Hamm Archives". Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  6. Newman, Andy (November 12, 1998). "More Than Just a Movie House; A Magnet for Brooklyn's Young Is in Place, but Will It Work?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  7. "Dance Mailbag". The New York Times. October 3, 1976. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  8. Lee, Felicia R. (October 5, 2004). "Endowment Doubles for Brooklyn Academy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  9. Libbey, Peter (September 13, 2018). "How Next Wave Is It? Joseph V. Melillo Picks His Kind of Show From His Final Program". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  10. Barone, Joshua (October 23, 2018). "A 100-Dance Merce Cunningham Celebration Is Coming to BAM". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  11. Pogrebin, Robin (February 4, 2014). "President of BAM Will Leave Next Year". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  12. Editors, American Theatre (May 4, 2017). "Joseph V. Melillo to Depart Brooklyn Academy of Music". AMERICAN THEATRE. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  13. Scott, A. O. (June 19, 2012). "BAMcinemaFest, With Jonathan Caouette and Others". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  14. Kathy Howe (September 1996). "National Register of Historic Places Registration:Brooklyn Academy of Music". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2011. See also: "Accompanying 17 photos". Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. and "Additional documentation including floor plans and photographs". Archived from the original on October 19, 2012.
  15. "BAM Rose Cinemas". NYC-ARTS. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  16. Newman, Andy (November 12, 1998). "More Than Just a Movie House; A Magnet for Brooklyn's Young Is in Place, but Will It Work?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  17. "New Theater Unveiled At Brooklyn Academy". The New York Times. December 15, 1973. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  18. "BAM Hillman Attic Studio | Theater in Fort Greene, Brooklyn". Time Out New York. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  19. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. Berkvist, Robert (February 11, 2017). "Harvey Lichtenstein, Who Led Brooklyn Academy of Music's Rebirth, Dies at 87". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  21. Tamara Hinson, for CNN (April 22, 2014). "15 of the world's most spectacular theaters". CNN. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  22. "BAM blog: The Majestic BAM Harvey Theater". Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  23. Pogrebin, Robin (June 13, 2012). "BAM's Richard B. Fisher Building to Be Unveiled Thursday". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  24. "BAM Fisher Hillman Studio". NYC-ARTS. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  26. New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission "Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District Designation Report" Archived March 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine (September 26, 1978)
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