New Yorkers are always craving new sensations. Even with jazz clubs, concert stadiums, and subway performances scattered — and sometimes moving — throughout the city, new music can typically find a roaring welcome in New York. Until March 2023, everyone will be “talkin’ ’bout some new sensations” because of the New York Public Library‘s exhibition at the Library for the Performing Arts about rock legend Lou Reed.

On July 26, Untapped New York Insiders are invited inside the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts for a tour of the exhibition, Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars. Led by co-curator Don Fleming, the tour will take insiders through the exhibition, which includes photographs, videos, rare music, memorabilia, album collections, and much more. After the tour, Raj Patel from the engineering firm Arup will give a talk and demonstration of the Listening Room, an ambisonic surround sound gallery built with Lou Reed in 2013. Become a member today (use code JOINUS for your first month free).

Lou Reed exhibit at the New York Public Library

Uncover the life of Lou Reed

Though the exhibition curated by Fleming and Jason Stern is open to the public, few have the opportunity to speak to one of the curators. As Fleming leads the tour through the exhibit, he will share never-before-heard recordings of Reed, show Reed’s record collection, and unveil so many more rare items related to the legacy of the musician and his band the Velvet Underground.

Part of Lou Reed's record collection
Doo Wop records from Lou Reed’s record collection. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.

Reed’s album New York, which depicts New York as a crumbling city, inspired the exhibition in part due to one of its songs: “Romeo Had Juliette.” As Reed opens the love song about Romeo Rodriguez and Juliette Bell, he sings, “Caught between the twisted stars the plotted lines the faulty map / that brought Columbus to New York / Betwixt between the East and west he calls on her wearing a leather vest / the earth squeals and shudders to a halt.” It is from these first lines that the curators coined the name of the exhibition: Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars.

Past Reed’s music, the exhibition shows the multiplicity of his character through the display of the articles, books, and poems that he authored along with his own photography and personal tai chi studies. Fans of Reed’s music have no need to worry though for Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars. displays never-before-heard recordings of music from his Freeport High School band, The Shades, the Velvet Underground, his solo albums and tours, and his final performances in 2013.

Lou Reed's guitars
Two of Lou Reed’s guitars that are on display at the NYPL exhibit Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars. Photo by Max Touhey and courtesy of the New York Public Library.

For more visually inclined insiders, Fleming will show off original prints and contact sheets, handwritten lyrics, personal correspondence, studio notes, album proofs, tour posters, and some of Reed’s prized guitars. These are artifacts from Reed’s career that highlight his climb to fame.

Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars climaxes with a whirlwind of sensations in the Lou Reed listening room, developed in part by Reed himself. In this room, you can listen to Reed’s music how he thought it should be listened to: with mono, stereo, quadraphonic, and full ambisonic spatial audio and an accompanying light and visual installation. Within the room, you can experience Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe, a sound installation developed by Reed. This experience is designed to be listened to in New York, a city Reed is inherently tied to.

the Lou Reed listening room at the New York Public Library
The Lou Reed listening room. Photo by Max Touhey and courtesy of the New York Public Library.

“He was New York from top to bottom. He was born here and died here … He saw it change, but he never disappeared. Almost every record of his was made here. It was his city. Tourists would see him and Laurie [Anderson] on the street and know they’d been to New York,” his producer Hal Willner said.

Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars honors Willner, along with more than 20 other notable figures associated with Reed’s career, including artist Andy Warhol, musician David Bowie, tai chi Grandmaster Ren GuangYi, and poet Allen Ginsberg. Join Untapped New York Insiders on July 26 to experience a celebration of Reed. Through this exhibition, Reed’s influence will only extend further, allowing his rock notes and chords to touch more ears and souls.

Lou Reed exhibit at the New York Public Library

Uncover the life of Lou Reed

Next, check out the top 10 most borrowed books in New York Public Library history!