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‘Austin City Limits’ Archives Relocate to Rock Hall Museum

David Byrne on 'ACL' / Photo by Scott Newton

Austin City Limits is moving to Cleveland — well, at least part of its history is. Thirty-six years’ worth of material, including documents, video, audio, and photo content, from the live music PBS television series will make its way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum, where it will be archived and displayed for fans and scholars to peruse.

Yesterday afternoon, the two organizations, both coincidentally captained by guys named Terry — Rock Hall Museum president and CEO Terry Stewart and ACL executive producer Terry Lickona — announced the partnership with parallel statements, indicating that the partnership is a win-win (nearly 40 years’ worth of audio and video material is a lot to handle!).

The nearly four-decade-old show, Stewart said, is “one of the most significant archives that documents the American culture and [its team] shares our mission of celebrating and interpreting popular music’s impact on our world.”

“We are honored to have our collection preserved in perpetuity at the Museum,” Lickona added, “as it will allow us to focus our resources on continuing to produce great television.”

The material added to the museum’s extensive collection will include over 800 artist performances (40 of those being Hall of Fame inductees), 5,500 audio and video recordings, unaired performance footage, programs, tickets, and over 270,000 slides, negatives, and prints from the series’ storied history. The content will join what the Museum calls “the world’s most comprehensive repository of materials relating to the history of rock’n’roll,” which includes collections of pop’s most prominent figures, like Clive Davis, Seymour Stein, and Joe Smith. ACL, which began broadcasting in 1976, began as a live-music show that served to showcase local Austin talent (originally, it was mostly bluegrass and country) and grew to represent the city’s claim to fame as the “live music capital of the world.” Its low-capacity (only 800 seats!) live tapings at its new(ish) home at the Moody Theater in downtown Austin are, as you can see, highly recommended on trips down to the Lonestar state — if you can snag the free tickets, that is.

If you can’t make the trek to Cleveland, Ohio, to see the insanely huge collection, the Rock Hall has also offered up a bunch of downloadable B-roll video from some of ACL’s most iconic performances.