Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum

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When the Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum was dispersed in 1971, its collections were divided among the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Office of Art Properties, Barnard's Minor Latham Theatre, the Barnard Library, and the Music Library. The Rare Book and Manuscript Library received manuscripts, historical recordings (78 rpm discs and tape), theatrical printed ephemera (including playbills, scrapbooks, and programs), engravings, paintings, portraits, and photographs.

From the description of Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum records, 1910-1971. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 493894482

BIOGHIST REQUIRED Brander Matthews (1852-1929) first began collecting puppets in 1867 at the age of sixteen, when on his first trip to France he bought a set of eleven Guignol hand puppets with wooden heads. His puppet collection, along with the various stage models and masks he had collected over the years, eventually became part of the Dramatic Museum, which opened in 1911.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED After Matthew's death, the Museum's curators continued to expand the collections, and created an inventory of the puppets and masks in the 1960s.

BIOGHIST REQUIRED When the museum was dissolved in 1971, the puppets and masks were transferred first to the Art Properties Department, and then to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1981 & 1983, where they remain. The set models were first on long-term loan to Barnard, and then most were for many years on display in Dodge Hall; they were transferred to Art Properties in 1996, then to RBML in 2001. Many pieces included in the Museum's 1960s inventories are no longer in the collection. Only the remaining items are described in this finding aid.

From the guide to the Dramatic Museum Realia, [18th c.]-1966., (Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Appointed to the Columbia College faculty in 1892, Matthews began collecting theater-related memorabilia in 1911, convinced that the only way to learn about drama was through first-hand acquaintance with artifacts, images, and texts of the theatrical past. Matthews then donated his own collection of theatrical memorabilia to the University to support the burgeoning study of world-wide theater history. He commissioned stage models representing historical periods, collected the scripts and theatrical designs of his contemporaries, gathered more than 30,000 images of actors and entertainers, and purchased masks and puppets from dealers and performers all over the world. Thanks to a generous endowment, additions to the collection were made for decades after Matthews died in 1929. The Dramatic Museum was housed in Low Library at Columbia until it was closed in 1971; since then the collection has been split between various archival repositories at Columbia University.

From the description of Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum Theatre and Costume print collection, 1787-1966. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 276486400

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Columbia University. Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum. Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum papers, [ca. 1750]-1970. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Dramatic Museum Realia, [18th c.]-1966. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
creatorOf Columbia University. Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum. Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum records, 1864-1911. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Williams, Richmond Barnes, 1903-1986. Papers, 1921-1986. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Columbia University. Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum. Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum Theatre and Costume print collection, 1787-1966. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Columbia University. Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum. Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum records, 1910-1971. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Belasco, David, 1853-1931. person
associatedWith Bufano, Remo. person
associatedWith Chestnut Street Opera House (Philadelphia, Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Daly, Augustin, 1838-1899. person
associatedWith Fishman's Booking Department (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Garrick Theatre (Philadelphia, Pa.) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Opera House. corporateBody
associatedWith Hayes, Helen, 1900-1993. person
associatedWith Jones, Robert Edmond, 1887-1954 person
associatedWith Klaw & Erlanger. corporateBody
associatedWith Matthews, Brander, 1852-1929 person
associatedWith Matthews, Brander, 1852-1929. person
associatedWith Olympia Theatre (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Walnut Street Theatre. corporateBody
associatedWith Williams, Richmond Barnes, 1903-1986. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
England
Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
New York (State)--New York
United States
England--London
Delaware--Wilmington
Subject
Theatrical agents
Art, Modern--19th century
Puppet plays
Architecture--Designs and plans
Costume design--History--Sources
Dance
Theater
Costume design--Pictorial works
Drama
Museums
Ethnic costume--Pictorial works
Motion pictures
Spectacular, The
Clothing and dress--Pictorial works
Opera
Museums--New York (State)--New York
Theater architecture
Architecture--Pictorial works
Performing Arts
Theaters--Stage-setting and scenery--Pictorial works
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1864

Active 1911

Active 1910

Active 1971

Active 1750

Active 1970

Active 1787

Active 1966

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SNAC ID: 84128043