Bob Dylan's secret archive is bigger than people thought, and it's going on exhibit

Bob Dylan's long-rumored archive is headed to Oklahoma.
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Bob Dylan's long-rumored archive is headed to Oklahoma.

The Minnesota-born musician's collection, which includes more than 6,000 items spanning 60 years, has been acquired by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the University of Tulsa, a news release says.

The organizations got the archive for an estimated $15-$20 million, the New York Times says, and it will be permanently housed in Tulsa, under the stewardship of the university's Helmerich Center for American Research, the release notes.

It had long been rumored that Dylan held an "extensive archive," the New York Times reports, but "it is clear that the archives are deeper and more vast than even most Dylan experts could imagine, promising untold insight into the songwriter's work."

In addition to the notebooks with handwritten lyrics from some of his biggest hits, never-before seen concert films, music recordings, and handwritten correspondence, the archive includes:

  • His 1966 wallet, which has numerous inserts, including a piece of paper with Johnny Cash's address and phone number, and a business card from Otis Redding.
  • Dylan's 1962 signed contract with Witmark Music – his first music publisher.
  • His earliest music recordings from 1959.
  • Handwritten notes from Dylan and director Howard Alk that detail editing notes and shot selects from the 1970s films "Eat The Document" and "Renaldo and Clara."
  • Sketches, writings and edits from "Tarantula," Dylan's 1965 collection of experimental poetry.
  • The surviving harp from inside the piano, which he used to compose "Like a Rolling Stone."

For more on what's in the archive, click here. The New York Times also details many of the unique items, and you can click here to read it.

The foundation and university will be working to hire people to curate and run its new Bob Dylan Archive, with the goal of having a permanent exhibit space near the Woody Guthrie Center. Woody Guthrie was one of Dylan's most significant influences – and no, he's not the same Guthrie behind Minneapolis' Guthrie Theater.

In the news release, Dylan said:

“I’m glad that my archives, which have been collected all these years, have finally found a home and are to be included with the works of Woody Guthrie and especially alongside all the valuable artifacts from the Native American Nations. To me it makes a lot of sense and it’s a great honor.”

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