Global Theatre History · Theatre Archives · Theatre History

Theatre Archives, Museums and Collections

woman-peering-at-dusty-old-museum-displayTheatre is History: it flakes away in the very moment of its production. The show ends, the curtain falls, the stage remains empty… There is hardly any other cultural form as volatile and intangible as theatrical performance. Immediacy and ephemerality characterize theatre, and it is this intangibility that makes it both difficult and challenging to archive, preserve and perpetuate theatre (history).

When they began to establish museums open to everyone in the 19th century, theatre, too, became an object of collections and archives. Thanks to numerous theatre collections in almost all places of the globe, theatre researchers interested in theatre history are able to explore (snippets of) the theatrical past by studying the ‘leftovers’ or tangible traces of theatrical performances such as scripts, text books, reviews, sketches, playbills, paintings, photographs, videos, etc. of both theatre’s production and reception.

I compiled two lists that might serve as useful overviews: Theatre Archives & Collections in Germany and  Theatre Museums in Europe.

The compilations are preliminary and subject to continuous expansion. Suggestions for modification are highly appreciated.

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