Dead Central

Project Info

Dead Central
University of California
Santa Cruz, California
1,400 sf
Completed 2012

Located in the McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz, Dead Central transforms a former classroom into a 1,400 sf scholarly archive and exhibition space dedicated to the rich cultural history of the Grateful Dead. As the new home to a collection of papers and artifacts donated by the band’s headquarters, the archive includes gallery and display space for a wide variety of material including posters, ticket stubs, backstage passes, and binders of song lyrics and chords; a collection of scholarly articles and dissertations; handwritten accounts of the band’s early history; and over 14,000 fan letters and decorated ticket and fan mail envelopes.

With windows on one side facing the library’s courtyard entrance, the archive’s design prioritizes natural light and circulation, with retractable glass doors that can be opened to accommodate heavier foot traffic during events and exhibit openings. An anteroom at the far end of Dead Central serves as a digital media exhibit, outfitted with church pew seating and stain glass artwork.