The Nuclear Bunker Where America Preserves Its Audio-Visual Heritage

 

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The Library of Congress has over 160 million items in its collection, including 23 million books, and more than 1.1 million films, and television programs ranging from motion pictures made in the 1890s to today’s TV programs. It has the original camera negatives of 1903’s The Great Train Robbery and Victor Fleming’s Gone With The Wind. It even has all the sequels of Scary Movie and modern hit TV shows such as Judge Judy. The library also holds nearly 3.5 million audio recordings of public radio broadcasts and music, representing over a hundred years of sound recording history. It has films and audio on nearly all formats, from cylinders to magnetic tapes to CDs. It’s the Noah’s Ark of the creative history of the United States.

Most of the library’s audio and video collections are stored in a Cold War bunker at the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountains in Culpeper, Virginia. Known as the Packard Campus of the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, it is the Library of Congress’s latest audiovisual archive storage facility.

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The Packard Campus was originally built in 1969 as a high-security storage facility where the Federal Reserve Board stored $3 billion in cash, so that it could replenish the cash supply east of the Mississippi River in the event of a catastrophic war with the Soviet Union. Like most nuclear bunkers built during the Cold War period, the radiation-hardened Packard Campus was constructed of steel-reinforced concrete one foot thick, had lead-lined shutters and was surrounded dirt strips and barbed-wire fences. The bunker could also house up to 540 people for a month. It had beds and freeze-dried food, an incinerator, indoor pistol range, a helicopter landing pad and a cold-storage area for bodies awaiting burial in case radiation levels were too high to go outside.

After the Cold War ended, the bunker was decommissioned and sat abandoned for four years before it was purchased by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation on behalf of the Library of Congress. Nearly $240 million was spent transforming the bunker into a state-of-the-art storage facility with more than 90 miles of shelving for collections storage, 35 climate controlled vaults for sound recording, safety film, and videotape, and 124 nitrate film vaults.

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The facility also housed the Culpeper Switch, which was the central switching station of the Federal Reserve’s Fedwire electronic funds transfer system, which at the time connected only the Fed’s member banks. The Culpeper Switch also served as a data backup point for member banks east of the Mississippi River.

In 1988, all money was removed from Mount Pony. The Culpeper Switch ceased operation in 1992, its functions having been decentralized to three smaller sites. In addition, its status as continuity of government site was removed. The facility was poorly maintained by a skeleton staff until 1997 when the bunker was offered for sale. With the approval of the United States Congress, it was purchased by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond via a $5.5 million grant, done on behalf of the Library of Congress. With a further $150 million from the Packard Humanities Institute and $82.1 million from Congress, the facility was transformed into the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, which opened in mid-2007. The center offered, for the first time, a single site to store all 6.3 million pieces of the library’s movie, television, and sound collection.

 

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The Packard Campus was designed to be a green building, being situated mostly underground and topped with sod roofs. It was designed to have minimal visual impact on the Virginia countryside by blending into the existing landscape. From the northwest, only a semi-circular terraced arcade appears in the hill to allow natural light into the administrative and work areas. Additionally, the site also included the largest private sector re-forestation effort on the Eastern Seaboard, amassing over 9,000 tree saplings and nearly 200,000 other plantings.

The campus also contains a 206-seat theater capable of projecting both film and modern digital cinema and which features a digital organ that rises from under the stage to accompany silent film screenings. The Packard Campus currently holds semi-weekly screenings of films of cultural significance in its reproduction Art Deco theater.

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Heavy Metal Magazine covers from the 1980’s

Heavy Metal is an American science fiction and fantasy comics magazine, known primarily for its blend of dark fantasy/science fiction and erotica. In the mid-1970s, while publisher Leonard Mogel was in Paris to jump-start the French edition of National Lampoon, he discovered the French science-fantasy magazine Métal Hurlant which had debuted December 1974. The French title translates literally as “Howling Metal.”

 

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Heavy Metal Magazine Covers from The 1980s 66

Vintage Ads from Decades Past

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Pepsi from the early sixties, bikini clad women always garner attention, eh.

 

ads1 campbell soup 1969

1969

 

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McDonald’s 1964

 

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1965

 

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ads4 1963

1963

 

ads5 1962

Who the hell is Midge?

1962

 

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German toy ad 1963

 

ads7 1953

Swimsuit ad 1953

 

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1953

 

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Early 1970’s, they would wear anything back then!

 

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1943

 

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Diaper change after every 3 swigs?

 

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Lets get them Boy Scouts hammered!

 

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THE INTENSELY COLORFUL FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY OF TEJAL PATNI

Tejal Patni

I can’t recall ever seeing such bold use of patterns—entirely excessive, but somehow it works. These images come from the 2014 calendar for Splash, a Dubai-based company reputed to be “the Middle East’s largest fashion retailer.” The meticulously conceived pics are the work of Tejal Patni, an Indian photographer and filmmaker who works out of Dubai. He’s done the last four calendars for Splash, but this last one is on a whole new level.
Tejal Patni

Tejal Patni

Tejal Patni

Tejal Patni

Tejal Patni

‘Neon’ movie posters of cult films by Quentin Tarantino, Dario Argento, Stanley Kubrick and more

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The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) neon movie poster

Using the art of “one point perspective” (an approach to art that began as early as the 15th century in Europe that utilizes a “vanishing point” on the horizon point of the image) two Italian twin brothers (working under the moniker Van Orton Design) took on the task of digitally reimagining movie posters based on cult films from directors like Dario Argento and Wes Anderson, in vivid electric neon color schemes.

 

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Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)

 

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Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

 

Although the twins used modern methods to obtain their striking results, there is a distinct old-school feel to their posters that homage some of cinema’s greatest achievements of the past 50 years. The brothers, who appear to prefer to remain nameless and obscure their faces with masks, have also managed to have the films be seen through fresh eyes due to their unique presentation and interpretation of different, unforgettable scenes in the films themselves. Such as the moment Marcellus Wallace unfortunately strolled in front of the beat up Honda that Butch Coolidge was driving in Pulp Fiction (pictured above) before everything goes to shit for both of them.

 

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)

 

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2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

 

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Big Trouble in Little China (John Carpenter, 1986)

 

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Army of Darkness ( Sam Raimi, 1992)

 

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Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975)

 

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The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

Dangerous Minds