Drive down to Culpepper, VA and you’ll find the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center, home to the Library of Congress’s film archive. This is where preservationists keep a massive storehouse of tens of thousands of films – classics, flops, and even reportedly Jerry Lewis’s unreleased disaster The Day the Clown Cried.
YouTube channel Great Big Story managed to a rare peek behind the scenes, and the level of security needed for the collection is astounding. Archivist George Willeman explains that many early films in their collection are printed on nitrate, an explosive chemical that could probably take down building (remember the ending of Inglourious Basterds?). So, much of the archive is kept in a former nuclear bunker.
Thankfully, we don’t work with nitrate, so the AU Library isn’t going to blow up. Let’s thank the archivists doing the heavy lifting.