Recently I stumbled upon information about a fascinating place in New York City that I knew nothing about: the Conjuring Arts Research Center. Dedicated to the preservation and interpretation through performance of magic and its allied arts, from sleight-of-hand techniques to hypnosis and psychic phenomena, the center apparently has made a name for itself among historians, illusionists and students of magic, writers, collectors, and television and film producers. Who knew?!
Founded in 2003 by Bill Kalush, the nonprofit center, just off Fifth Avenue in mid-town Manhattan, publishes scholarly journals, including Gibeciere; teaches the Hocus Pocus magic education program to disadvantaged children; and maintains a huge collection of historic books, correspondence, manuscripts of magic methods, and magazines, among other media (an online list of magazines and journals is here). Some of the more than 12,000 titles in the research library date to the 15th Century, and rare volumes in Russian, Dutch, and other languages are available. Noteworthy are the center's online exhibitions and galleries.
In the video below, Kalush talks about how he built his incredible collection and shows us some of his favorite pieces. When you visit the Website, be sure to check the sections Curious and New, where you'll find yourself immersed in the strange and fascinating; Houdini; and Playing Cards. The Research section also will yield delights.
Cool Hunting Video: The Conjuring Arts Research Center from Cool Hunting on Vimeo.
Conjuring Arts Research Center on FaceBook
Also Of Interest
Ask Alexander (This is a membership-based service from the center that comprises a search database of magic books, magazines, and newsletters.)
"Conjuring Arts Research Center: Revealing the History of Magic", NPR, June 26, 2010