Mission & History

FAQ

1. What is The Paley Center for Media?

2. What will I see there?

3. Who is it named for?

4. Will I see Archie Bunker’s chair?

5. Do you have everything ever broadcast?

6. What’s in your collection? Can I look online to see what you have?

7. Can I get a clip of something in your collection for a project I’m working on?

8. Has the Paley Center been around a long time?

9. Do I need to be a Member to use the library?

What is The Paley Center for Media?

The Paley Center for Media, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms for the professional community and media-interested public. Drawing upon its curatorial expertise, an international collection, and close relationships with the leaders of the media community, the Paley Center examines the intersections between media and society. The general public can access the collection and participate in programs that explore and celebrate the creativity, the innovations, the personalities, and the leaders who are shaping media. Through the global programs of its Media Council and International Council, the Paley Center also serves as a neutral setting where media professionals can engage in discussion and debate about the evolving media landscape. Previously known as The Museum of Television & Radio, the Paley Center was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry.

What will I see there?

At The Paley Center for Media, you have the opportunity to access an international collection of over 160,000 programs covering almost 100 years of television and radio history, including news, public affairs programs and documentaries, performing arts programs, children's programming, sports, comedy and variety shows, and commercial advertising. Programming from some seventy countries is represented in the collection.

In our library you choose a program from the collection. Then you go to watch or listen to it at a console—individually, or with up to four people at a family console.

You can also drop in to a screening in one of the Paley Center’s theaters. Each day we screen a wide variety of programming from our collection, from David Bowie in performance or a look at the work of Jim Henson or the short films of Saturday Night Live. In our theaters you enjoy the communal experience of watching television together. All of the programming is also available for you to watch or listen to at an individual console through the library.

Throughout the year we offer numerous public programs that bring together writers, directors, producers, actors, critics, journalists, and artists from many disciplines to discuss everything from the creative process behind television and radio to the current trends in media and popular culture, to global political situations.

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Who is it named for?

Previously known as The Museum of Television & Radio, the Paley Center was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley, a pioneering innovator in the industry. Read William S. Paley biography

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Will I see Archie Bunker’s chair?

No. That’s in the Smithsonian. We do not collect artifacts of any kind as part of our permanent collection. We only collect programming. We occasionally have gallery exhibits that display television and radio related pieces.

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Do you have everything ever broadcast?

No. It is a curated collection. Programs have been selected on the basis of artistic achievement, social impact, or historic significance.

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What’s in your collection? Can I look online to see what you have?

We have nearly 150,000 programs and advertisements, covering more than eighty-five years of television and radio history (beginning with a 1918 speech by labor leader Samuel Gompers). The collection spans all genres: comedy, drama, news, public affairs, performing arts, children’s, sports, reality, animation, and documentary, and includes a significant international presence, with seven thousand assets from seventy countries. The same collection is available in both New York and Los Angeles.

The library database is now online. Click here to access it.

To inquire about specific programs, contact our reference librarians:
In New York: Wednesdays to Fridays, 5:00 to 5:30 pm (ET) only, call 212.621.6600, press "0" to speak to an operator, and ask for the library.
In Los Angeles: Wednesdays to Sundays, noon to 5:00 pm (PT) only, call 310.786.1091, or email mgostanian@paleycenter.org.

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Can I get a clip of something in your collection for a project I’m working on?

Absolutely not. Unlike many cultural institutions, we do not own the rights to the individual programs that are here. They were donated to us only to be viewed or listened to in the Paley Center by the general public.

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Has The Paley Center for Media been around a long time?

It was founded in 1975 by William S. Paley and opened in 1976 as The Museum of Broadcasting at 1 East 53 Street in New York City in a building that was converted office space. Paley’s vision was to make sure that programming was being preserved—in order to preserve our own cultural history—and to let this collection be accessible to the general public walking in off the street.

In response to evolving technologies, in 1990 we changed our name to The Museum of Television & Radio and in 1991 moved into a Philip Johnson–designed building at 25 West 52 Street, named for William S. Paley. In 1996 we opened The Museum of Television & Radio in Los Angeles at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, in a new building designed by Richard Meier and named for Leonard H. Goldenson.

It is now The Paley Center for Media, reflecting the growing range of communications that impact society.

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Do I need to be a Member to use the library?

No, but there are many benefits to being a Member of this unique media community, including extended viewing time at the consoles, discounts on event tickets, and access to Research Services. Learn more about becoming a Member

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