In Depth: Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
This consolidated complex was founded to make the performing arts accessible to the masses as well as to elites, and to give New York City, as the de facto cultural capital of the United States, a venue comparable to those in other world capitals.
The RBF supported the creation of Lincoln Center with a gift of $2.5 million in 1962. It also made gifts to several cultural organizations, for example the Metropolitan Opera Association, to subsidize the costs of their move to the Center.
Founding RBF trustee John D. Rockefeller 3rd led a funding campaign that solicited multi-million dollar gifts from other major foundations, most notably the Rockefeller and Ford foundations. Founding RBF trustee Nelson Rockefeller, then Governor of New York, sought a way to contribute state aid to the creation of Lincoln Center, and applied $15 million of the state’s World’s Fair budget for the performing arts portion of the fair to be held there, thus launching the New York State Theater. Lincoln Center’s groundbreaking ceremony was held in 1959, and its buildings opened in phases from 1962 to 1966.
Lincoln Center architects:
- Max Abramovitz, Philharmonic Hall (now David Geffen Hall)
- Pietro Belluschi, Juilliard School (including Alice Tully Hall)
- Gordon Bunshaft, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
- Philip Johnson, New York State Theater (now David H. Koch Theater)
- Eero Saarinen, Vivian Beaumont Theater
- Wallace K. Harrison, Lincoln Center master plan and the Metropolitan Opera House
Original Organizations Housed in Lincoln Center:
- Metropolitan Opera
- New York Philharmonic
- New York City Ballet
- New York City Opera
- Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center
- The Juilliard School