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National Comedy Center to lead preservation of Johnny Carson archives; open new multi-media exhibit in 2022

In 2022, the National Comedy Center will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Johnny Carson’s run as the host of The Tonight Show.

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — The National Comedy Center in Jamestown has announced a collaboration with the Elkhorn Valley Museum in Norfolk, Nebraska for the National Comedy Center to lead the preservation of the historic Johnny Carson archives.

This joint-preservation announcement comes on the comedy and late-night legend's 95th birthday, October 23, 2020. 

The Elkhorn Valley Museum is located in Johnny Carson’s hometown of Norfolk, Nebraska where they have a Johnny Carson gallery.

“Johnny Carson is one of the most beloved and influential late night hosts of all time. For 30 years, Johnny kept the country laughing through good times and bad, while also introducing us to many of the greatest stand-up comedians ever to take the stage,” National Comedy Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson said in a press release. “The story of comedy in America simply cannot be told properly without presenting Johnny Carson’s enormous and invaluable contribution to the art form. We are excited to be partnering with the Elkhorn Valley Museum and Carson Entertainment Group to preserve Johnny’s legacy for generations to come."

The archive includes screen-used artifacts, wardrobe, creative documents and awards that will be jointly exhibited by the National Comedy Center and the Elkhorn Valley Museum. 

The National Comedy Center will also oversee the digital preservation and conservation of the collection, which showcases Carson’s early life, career and legendary 30-year reign as the host of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" which was on NBC from 1962-1992.

In 2022, the National Comedy Center will celebrate the 60th anniversary of Johnny Carson’s run as the host of The Tonight Show with a new multi-media exhibit: "30 Years of Late Night Television, 30 Years Later."

The exhibit will feature never-before-seen documents and creative papers (including Tonight Show monologues personally annotated by Carson), rare artifacts and wardrobe, and archival video from Carson’s storied television career.