The Paley Center for Media has vacated its longtime Beverly Hills location earlier than expected, setting up offices in Century City and finalizing a new home for its digital archives.
A spokesperson for the Paley Center confirmed to Variety that the Beverly Hills Public Library will be the new home for the TV and radio archives that previously lived at its now-closed museum. That collection includes at least 160,000 materials, including key moments in broadcast history.
Meanwhile, with the Paley Center’s Beverly Hills museum now vacated, three full-time staffers have been let go, the org said. The three employees were “building-related” workers related to the facility, while the remaining staff is now operating out of a new Century City office at 1901 Avenue of the Stars that — unlike the museum — is not open to the public.
That’s what facilitated the need to find a new home for the Paley Center collection. The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously approved a motion Tuesday night allowing the Paley to “lease space at the Beverly Hills Public Library temporarily so that its patrons and the public may continue to access the Paley Center’s media archives while the organization develops long-term plans to maintain a presence in Beverly Hills.”
The initial agreement is for two years, starting on March 1. The Paley Center would pay a base rent of one dollar a year, as well as $390 a month for utilities and building operating expenses (which comes to $4,680 per year) and a $5,000 security deposit. Paley would also pay for two monthly parking passes at the library’s nearby parking structure, at $105 per month per pass.
In exchange, the Paley Center will be given space to install four desktop computers and a librarian/office desk for up to two Paley Center employees. An office for Paley would be located inside the existing study room, approximately 166 square feet, and the public archive viewing area with four Paley Center computers would be located just outside the study room. Paley Center will pay the city for any improvements necessary to accommodate the new setup.
“We’re thrilled with the results of tonight’s vote, and are so grateful to the City of Beverly Hills for recognizing the importance of the Paley Archive, the world’s largest collection of publicly accessible television and radio programs.”, said Maureen J. Reidy, president and CEO of The Paley Center for Media. “We could not be happier and are so proud that Beverly Hills will remain the home of The Paley Archive.”
The Paley Center’s New York museum and headquarters remains open to the public. The Beverly Hills museum first opened in 1995 (under the org’s previous name, the Museum of Television & Radio), when it opened a new building designed by L.A. architect Richard Meier on the property — located on Beverly Drive at South Santa Monica Boulevard.
But Paley didn’t actually own the land where the building sits. Per its 2013 financial statements, the Paley Center paid approximately $1.2 million annually on its lease, which was set to expire on Feb. 28, 2024.
Instead, the Paley Center opted to vacate four years early. Real estate investment firm Jenel Management Corp. purchased the 26,500-square-foot property for nearly $47.3 million in 2014, and in 2008, LVMH bought it for $80 million — and is now buying out Paley’s lease early. At the time of the 2014 sale, a representative for the buyer said they planned to convert the property to high-end retail once Paley left. But LVMH is believed to now be looking at building an upscale hotel in the spot. In the meantime, the space will be subleased, including an upcoming stint with artist Thierry Guetta.
As the digital age meant that fewer visitors came to The Paley Center’s Beverly Hills location looking to watch archival footage, the focus of the building turned to more TV-related exhibits, as well as industry events. The Paley Center’s marquee event, the annual Paley Fest, was always too big to be held in its theater; it’s now held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
Since the start of the year, other Paley events have been held in locations such as the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where the PaleyLive LA tribute “An Evening with Henry Winkler” took place last Wednesday. Other events have been lined up to take place at the Director’s Guild of America theater; a full spring lineup will be announced shortly.
When Variety broke the news in December that the museum would close, the org said in a statement, “The Paley Center for Media is thriving in L.A., and while our lease in Beverly Hills is ending, our commitment to presenting entertaining and educational programs in Los Angeles is stronger than ever. In the coming years we will continue to offer the public ongoing programs that explore media’s impact on our society and culture, and on the industry side, we will continue to gather the esteemed Paley Media Council to hear from some of the most renowned leaders in media. Our iconic tentpole events, PaleyFest LA and The Paley Honors, will continue to be held at the Dolby Theatre and the Beverly Wilshire, respectively.”