Brooklyn Academy of Music
BAM Peter Jay Sharp Building (2019)
Address30 Lafayette Avenue (Peter Jay Sharp)
651 Fulton Street (BAM Strong)
321 Ashland Place (Fisher)
LocationBrooklyn, New York
Public transit Long Island Rail Road: Atlantic Branch at Atlantic Terminal
New York City Subway: "2" train"3" train"4" train"5" train"B" train"D" train"N" train"Q" train"R" train at Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center
"G" train at Fulton Street
"C" train at Lafayette Avenue
TypePerforming arts center
CapacityHoward Gilman Opera House: 2,109
Harvey Theater: 874
Lepercq Space: 350
Fishman Space: 250
Total: 3,583

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is a multi-arts center in Brooklyn, New York City. It hosts progressive and avant-garde performances, with theater, dance, music, opera, film programming across multiple nearby venues.

BAM was chartered in 1859, presented its first show in 1861, and began operations in its present location in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, in 1908. The Academy is incorporated as a New York State not-for-profit corporation.[1] It has 501(c)(3) status.[2] Gina Duncan has served as president since April 2022.[3] David Binder became artistic director in 2019.[4]


19th and early 20th centuries

On October 21, 1858, a meeting was held at the Polytechnic Institute to measure support for establishing "a hall adapted to Musical, Literary, Scientific and other occasional purposes, of sufficient size to meet the requirements of our large population and worth in style and appearance of our city."[5] The group applied to the New York State Legislature for a charter in the name of Brooklyn Academy of Music.[6] The New York Legislature passed the bill to incorporate the Brooklyn Academy of Music on February 16, 1859.[7] The group raised $60,000 by November 22 and another $90,000 by March 16, 1859.[8][9] The Brooklyn Academy of Music opened on January 15, 1861.[10]

At the inaugural address on the opening, the management announced that no dramatic performance should ever be held within its walls.[11] The first concert opened with the overture to Der Freischütz, followed by arias and excerpts from various operas, including the William Tell Overture which opened part 2 of the concert.[10]

Founded in 1861, the first BAM facility at 176–194 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights was conceived as the home of the Philharmonic Society of Brooklyn. The building, designed by architect Leopold Eidlitz, housed a large theater seating 2,109, a smaller concert hall, dressing and chorus rooms, and a vast "baronial" kitchen. BAM presented amateur and professional music and theater productions, including performers such as Ellen Terry, Edwin Booth, and Fritz Kreisler. On her lecture tour of the United States in 1889-1890, Egyptologist and founder of the Egypt Exploration Society Amelia Edwards gave her first and last lectures here, in November and March, respectively.[12]

After the building burned to the ground on November 30, 1903,[13] plans were made to relocate to a new facility in the then fashionable neighborhood of Fort Greene. The cornerstone was laid at 30 Lafayette Avenue in 1906 and a series of opening events were held in the fall of 1908 culminating in a grand gala evening featuring Geraldine Farrar and Enrico Caruso in a Metropolitan Opera production of Charles Gounod's Faust. The Met presented seasons in Brooklyn, featuring star singers such as Caruso, until 1921.

It was also used for religious services during the early 1900s. Charles Taze Russell, founder of the bible students movement (now Jehovah's Witnesses and International Bible Students Association), gave sermons there the first Sunday of the month from 1908 until 1912.[citation needed]


The Waltann School of Creative Arts (WSCA), founded in 1959,[14] located at 1078 Park Place, Brooklyn, was a BAM venue during the 1960s and 1970s.[15] One of the dance teachers there was African American contemporary dancer Carole Johnson,[16] and the Eleo Pomare Dance Company performed there in 1967.[17]

In 1967, Harvey Lichtenstein was appointed executive director and during his 32 years in that role, BAM experienced a turnaround,[18] attracting audiences with new programming and establishing an endowment.[19] BAM began hosting the annual Next Wave Festival in 1983, featuring performances by international and American artists.[20][21] Humanities, education, and events for children take place throughout the year, plus first-run and repertory films and series.

The Chelsea Theater Center was in residence from 1967 to 1977.[citation needed]

From 1999 to 2015, Karen Brooks Hopkins[22] was president, and Joseph V. Melillo was executive producer through 2018.[23]


A regular event as of 2012 was BAMcinemaFest,[24] a festival focusing on independent films. Katy Clark was president from 2015[25] and left the institution in 2021.[26]


Artists who have presented work at BAM include Philip Glass, Trisha Brown, Peter Brook, Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, Laurie Anderson, Lee Breuer, ETHEL, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Steve Reich, Seal, Mark Morris, Robert Wilson, Peter Sellars, BLACKstreet, Ingmar Bergman, David Van Tieghem, Michael Moschen, Twyla Tharp, Ralph Lemon, Ivo van Hove, and the Mariinsky Theater, directed and conducted by Valery Gergiev, among others.[citation needed]

Alice in Chains recorded their live album Unplugged at the Academy on April 10, 1996 at the Majestic Theater (now the Harvey Theater) for MTV Unplugged. Alanis Morissette also recorded her live album MTV Unplugged at the Academy on September 18, 1999.[citation needed]


Howard Gilman Opera House

The Peter Jay Sharp Building in the Fort Greene Historic District houses the Howard Gilman Opera House and the BAM Rose Cinemas (formerly the Carey Playhouse). It was designed by the firm Herts & Tallant in 1908, in the renaissance revival style. It is a U-shaped building with an open court in the center of the lot between two theater wings above the first story. The building has a high base of gray granite, with cream colored brick trimmed in terracotta with some marble detail above.[27] The Howard Gilman Opera House has 2,109 seats and BAM Rose Cinemas,[28] which opened in 1998, comprises four screens, and primarily shows first-run, independent and repertory films and series.[29]

Also within the Peter Jay Sharp Building is the Lepercq Space,[30] originally a ballroom and now a flexible event space which houses the BAMcafé, and the Hillman Attic Studio, a flexible rehearsal/performing space.[31]

The BAM Strong, an array of spaces, includes the 874-seat BAM Harvey Theater at 651 Fulton Street. Formerly known as the Majestic Theater, it was built in 1904 with 1,708 seats and eventually showed vaudeville and then feature films,[32] and was named in Lichtenstein's honor in 1999.[33] A renovation by architect Hugh Hardy left the interior paint faded, with often exposed masonry, giving the theater a unique feel of a "modern ruin". In April 2014, CNN named the BAM Harvey as one of the "15 of the World's Most Spectacular Theaters".[34] The complex also features a dedicated art gallery.[35]

The BAM Fisher Building,[36] opened in 2012, contains Fishman Space, a 250-seat black box theater, and Fisher Hillman Studio, a flexible rehearsal and performance space,[37] as well as administrative offices. The BAM Hamm Archives are located off-site in Crown Heights at 1000 Dean St. and maintain the publicly accessible Levy Digital Archive.

The BAM Sharp and Fisher Buildings are located within the Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District created by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1978; the BAM Strong is not.[38][39] BAM is adjacent to downtown Brooklyn, near Atlantic Terminal, the Barclays Center arena, and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower (once the tallest building in Brooklyn). BAM is part of the Brooklyn Cultural District.[29]

See also


  1. ^ "The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. DOS ID #: 282057". Entity Information. New York State Department of State, Division of Corporations. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  2. ^ "Brooklyn Academy of Music Inc. EIN: 11-2201344". Tax Exempt Organization Search. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  3. ^ Stevens, Matt (February 8, 2022). "BAM Taps Former Leader of Its Film Program as Its Next President". The New York Times. Retrieved January 12, 2023.
  4. ^ Paulson, Michael (February 7, 2018). "Broadway Producer Named BAM's New Artistic Director". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  5. ^ "A Brooklyn Academy of Music". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. October 22, 1858. p. 2.
  6. ^ "Local Improvements and Rent Estate in Brooklyn". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. November 8, 1858. p. 2.
  7. ^ "New-York Legislature". The New York Times. February 11, 1859. p. 1.
  8. ^ "The Brooklyn Academy of Music". Times Union (Brooklyn, New York). November 22, 1856. p. 2.
  9. ^ "Items of Interest". The Evansville Daily Journal (Evansville, Indiana). March 16, 1859. p. 2.
  10. ^ a b "Speech of Mr. Chittendon". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. January 16, 1861. pp. 2–3.
  11. ^ "Piety in the Parquette". The Buffalo Commercial (Buffalo, New York). January 23, 1861. p. 3.
  12. ^ Muñoz, Roberta (December 28, 2017). "Amelia Edwards in America – A Quiet Revolution in Archaeological Science". Bulletin of the History of Archaeology. 27 (1): 7. doi:10.5334/bha-598.
  13. ^ Sharon (September 5, 2011). "BAM blog: Introducing The BAM Hamm Archives". Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  14. ^ "Waltann School of Creative Arts (Brooklyn, NY): tenth anniversary luncheon, 1969" (from the Hale Woodruff collection, 1900–1980). Amistad Research Center. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  15. ^ "WSCA presents Allen Brown, pianist, Jane Judge, soprano". BAM Digital Archive. November 8, 1970. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  16. ^ "Johnson, Carole (1940–)". Trove.
  17. ^ "Production : The Eleo Pomare Dance Company [1967f.01828]". BAM Digital Archive. November 12, 1967. Retrieved August 31, 2022.
  18. ^ "Dance Mailbag". The New York Times. October 3, 1976. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  19. ^ Lee, Felicia R. (October 5, 2004). "Endowment Doubles for Brooklyn Academy". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  20. ^ Libbey, Peter (September 13, 2018). "How Next Wave Is It? Joseph V. Melillo Picks His Kind of Show From His Final Program". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  21. ^ Barone, Joshua (October 23, 2018). "A 100-Dance Merce Cunningham Celebration Is Coming to BAM". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  22. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (February 4, 2014). "President of BAM Will Leave Next Year". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  23. ^ "Joseph V. Melillo to Depart Brooklyn Academy of Music". American Theatre. May 4, 2017. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  24. ^ Scott, A. O. (June 19, 2012). "BAMcinemaFest, With Jonathan Caouette and Others". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  25. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (April 9, 2015). "Brooklyn Academy of Music Chooses New President". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  26. ^ Bahr, Sarah (November 10, 2020). "Brooklyn Academy of Music President to Leave Next Year". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 12, 2022.
  27. ^ Kathy Howe (September 1996). "National Register of Historic Places Registration:Brooklyn Academy of Music". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2011. See also: "Accompanying 17 photos". Archived from the original on October 12, 2012. and "Additional documentation including floor plans and photographs". Archived from the original on October 19, 2012.
  28. ^ "BAM Rose Cinemas". NYC-ARTS. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  29. ^ a b Newman, Andy (November 12, 1998). "More Than Just a Movie House; A Magnet for Brooklyn's Young Is in Place, but Will It Work?". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  30. ^ "New Theater Unveiled At Brooklyn Academy". The New York Times. December 15, 1973. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  31. ^ "BAM Hillman Attic Studio | Theater in Fort Greene, Brooklyn". Time Out New York. March 29, 2011. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  32. ^ Markisch, Erwin. "BAM Harvey Theater". Cinema Treasures.
  33. ^ Berkvist, Robert (February 11, 2017). "Harvey Lichtenstein, Who Led Brooklyn Academy of Music's Rebirth, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  34. ^ Tamara Hinson (April 22, 2014). "15 of the world's most spectacular theaters". CNN. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  35. ^ Passy, Charles (November 4, 2019). "Brooklyn Academy of Music Set to Open Art Gallery". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  36. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (June 13, 2012). "BAM's Richard B. Fisher Building to Be Unveiled Thursday". The New York Times. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  37. ^ "BAM Fisher Hillman Studio". NYC-ARTS. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  38. ^ "Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District Designation Report" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. September 26, 1978. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 26, 2013. Retrieved July 22, 2023.
  39. ^ "Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District | HDC". August 15, 2018. Retrieved January 28, 2024.