Studio of Charles Ives – New York, New York - Atlas Obscura

Studio of Charles Ives

The studio of influential composer Charles Ives is perfectly reconstructed, hidden in the back of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 


Stroll through the galleries of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in Washington Heights and you’ll suddenly find yourself transported back over half a century to the studio of American composer Charles Ives.

While he didn’t get much recognition in his lifetime, Ives’ meditative, early experimental compositions are now recognized as greatly influential on the direction of modern music. Here at the Academy housed in historic Audubon Terrace, some 3,000 artifacts from the studio he used for 40 years were carefully relocated and reassembled. 

Look closely at the small space, illuminated by a light box that replicates the view in Redding, Connecticut, and you’ll find the late composer’s James & Holmstrom piano with a cane on the back of the chair set up before a hidden liquor stash, pencil sharpener still with the shavings, and a hat tossed on a shelf. Sheet music for “The Unanswered Question” rests on a music stand. Although Ives passed away in 1954, the studio feels as if he’s just stepped away. 

The Charles Ive studio is open for viewing by appointment and sometimes during exhibitions at the Academy.  If the studio is closed during an exhibition, ask Academy staff if it can be opened for you.

Know Before You Go

Entrance is from Audubon Terrace, the mid-block plaza between 155th and 156th streets.

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