Collections

The Theatre Museum exists to increase the enjoyment, understanding and study of the history, craft and practice of the performing arts in Britain through its collections, which are the largest of their type in the world. The Theatre Museum collects a wide range of documents, artefacts and works of art which record the history of the performing arts in Britain from the sixteenth century to the present.

Costumes, designs, manuscripts, books, video recordings, including the National Video Archive of Performance, posters and paintings all play their part in helping to reconstruct the details of past performances and the lives of performers, past and contemporary. All the live performing arts are represented, including drama, dance, opera, musical theatre, circus, puppetry, music hall and live art.

A selection of 1,500 of the Museum’s prime objects are now available to see on our new PeoplePlayUK site. Here you will also find learning packs on popular subjects such as music hall, pantomime and circus, and activities designed for younger visitors.

The Museum’s collections are described individually on the wesbite for Backstage, a collaborative project designed to provide information about the UK holdings of research material relating to the performing arts.