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a first look at The Velvet Underground Experience which opens in NYC this week

The Velvet Underground Experience opens on Wednesday, October 10 in NYC (718 Broadway) and we got an early look at the whole thing. (Pictures are in the gallery above.) The exhibit, which was curated by Christian Fevret (who founded French site Les Inrockuptibles) and Carole Mirabello, is broken up into six sections — “Welcome to America,” ” Reed and Cale,” “The Childhood of Art,” “NY Spirit,” “Factory Years,” “Banana Album,” “Reinventions of The Velvet Underground” and “Echoes of Heritage” — which tracks the band from its roots all the way to their dissolution, as well as their lasting influence.

Things on the main floor begin with a look at what NYC was like pre-Velvets, set to narration from the late Alan Ginsberg, then move to a look at the city through the lens of legendary Village Voice photographer Fred McDarrah. From there it’s on to the group members connecting, making music, and more.

There are booths for each member of VU, with a booklet attached to featuring rare photos. In the middle of the main space is a visual room with cushions on the floor so you can lie down, look up and watch related short films from the era, rehearsal footage, a slideshow of photos by Billy Name, and documentaries (six of these were created just for this exhibit). Multimedia is pretty much everywhere you turn, as are rare photos like Lou Reed laughing with Andy on the way to a gig, and the last photos of the band together (taken at John Cale and Betsey Johnson’s wedding). There are also sections dedicated to Warhol and Nico.

Then you go “underground” (downstairs) one level, which is dedicated to people in the Velvet’s universe like Anthology Film Archives’ Jonas Mekas, who sent them a newly recorded video of him telling stories – there’s also a reproduction of his Cinematheque, where experimental films will be shown. Other sections are dedicated to Barbara Rubin, Candy Darling, Angus MacLise and more. Part of the “Echoes of Heritage” section is a large mural which shows many of the groups and artists who have been influenced by The Velvet Underground over the years. Still more: there’s an archive of rare, original magazines and newspapers that paint a picture of NYC when the band was active.

Go down one more level and you hit the Bandsintown Room where they will have performances, workshops and other events still to be announced.

The Velvet Underground Experience opens on Wednesday (10/10) and runs through December 30, with hours varying by day: Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon – 7 PM, Thursdays noon – 10 PM, and Saturday and Sunday 11 AM – 6 PM. Tickets are on sale now.

For opening day, French industrial designer matali crasset, who designed the space, will host a special walk-and-talk through The Velvet Underground Experience where she will “share her inspiration for the interior design of the exhibition and how she infused the band’s influence and spirit into the space.” That’s at 5 PM and is included with museum admission.

On Thursday (10/11), the Velvet Underground’s John Cale will participate in a Q&A at 5 PM (also included with admission, subject to capacity).

On Saturday (10/13), The Feelies will play a special set of Velvet Underground classics and other favorites at Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall (sold out).

You can listen to TIDAL playlists of Velvet Underground favorites made by The Feelies, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The National, TV on the Radio, Julian Casablancas, HERE.

photos by P Squared

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