Performing Arts collections in general, and Theatre Collections in particular, pose distinctive challenges for archives and museums. A book, painting, or musical score exists as a final product that can be studied years after the event. Theatre, on the other hand, is an ephemeral event that is captured only partially in the collections of the many individuals and companies associated with the production. These documents do not fit neatly in a manuscript box but often consist of large format paint renderings; scrapbooks; technical designs; models; fabric-filled costume bibles; audio and moving image material; and digital files created with specialized software.
As the creators of theatre in the mid-20th century retire and pass away, there is an enormous amount of this kind of material documenting the past century of theatrical work that is now in significant danger of being lost unless it can find a home in a cultural heritage institution. Existing theatre archives are now struggling to find space to responsibly house all of the material that researchers will need in the future.
The International Association for Libraries, Museums and Archives of the Performing Arts (SIBMAS) jointly with the New York Public Library dedicate a one day symposium on
“Curating A Wealth of Theatre History with Limited Resources” on Monday, 12 June, 2023.
In this full day public online meeting, developed by Tiffany Nixon (Roundabout Theatre Company) and Doug Reside (NYPL for the Performing Arts), curators of several of North America’s largest theatre archives will meet to discuss how each is addressing the present day challenges of documenting theatre. We will also hear from researchers who regularly use these collections and what they find both helpful and challenging in these archives. The meeting will conclude with an open discussion of how to ensure theatre history is preserved within the resource limitations of the 21st century.
Schedule (in NYC time: add 6 hours for Western Europe time, 5 hours for London or Dublin)
June 12, 2023
11:00 Welcome and introduction
11:30-12:30: Panel discussion of the archives by current curators
1:30-2:30: Panel discussion among researchers in theatre archives
2:45-3:15: Wrap up discussion
Curators: Mark Horowitz (Library of Congress), Dale Stinchcomb (Harvard Theatre Collection), Beth Kattleman (Ohio State University), Melissa Barton (Yale), Harriet Reed (V&A, London), Anna Lawaetz (Royal Library of Denmark),
Researchers: Ben West (Museum of Broadway), Dominic McHugh (University of Sheffield), Elizabeth Wollman (Baruch – CUNY), Derek Miller (Harvard), Laura MacDonald (Michigan State University), Clarisse Bardiot (University of Rennes), Arianne Johnson Quinn (Florida State University), Kate Bredeson (Reed College), Ulla Kallenbach (University of Bergen)