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What’s In Bob Dylan’s Archives?

By: Renee Grant

Last year, a massive collection of Bob Dylan‘s precious artifacts began arriving at Tulsa’s Center for American Research at the Gilcrease Museum. Roughly 6,000 items that have rarely or never been seen before will be a part of the collection once they all are together.

Related: Did Bob Dylan Plagiarize His Nobel Prize Speech?

Some of the incredible pieces in the collection include a handwritten draft of “Visions of Johanna” on yellow legal paper with alternate lyrics, the beginnings of a never-released love song for Mavis Staples, whom Dylan once proposed to in 1963, the leather jacket he wore at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, and tons of audio and video footage.

The archive will include digital copies of raw session tapes from all of Dylan’s studio albums, with the master tapes housed in a storage facility in upstate New York. The archive will maintain the audio files on a secure, offline network accessible only by three computer terminals at the library, helping to ensure the audio collection can’t be bootlegged.

The collection is a part of a deal between Dylan and the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which allows for the collection to have a permanent installation at the center.

The public will eventually have the opportunity to see a curated collection of the items when a planned Bob Dylan museum opens in downtown Tulsa in about 2 years, but scholars and journalists are able to view the artifacts if they make a specific request. The collection is currently housed in a climate-controlled, fire resistant room with constant security, the items are priceless, after all.

While the Kaiser Foundation has found a home for the Dylan museum, next door to the Woody Guthrie Center also funded by the Foundation, they are still working to decide on bids from architects and exhibition companies to help curate the collection.

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