Collection on Theaters, 1804-2005

Extent: 13 cubic feet.
The Museum of the City of New York’s Collection on Theaters contains materials documenting theatrical playhouses in New York City.

Administrative Note
The Museum of the City of New York’s Collection on Theaters is an artificial collection documenting New York City buildings dedicated to theatrical performance. The collection is pulled from over 115 different gifts brought together by Museum staff over several years. In addition to accessioned objects, the collection includes unaccessioned contributions from staff like newspaper and magazine articles, published images, and advertisements mailed to the Museum. It is unknown when collecting began, but no additional material has been added since 2010 and no further additions are planned.

Scope and Content
The majority of the material in the Collection on Theaters documents theatrical performance venues in Manhattan including the 40 performance spaces still in use in the Times Square area. File sizes range widely, and some files contain only a few pieces of ephemera while others document the extensive opening ceremonies, renovations, or financial activities of the buildings. Paper objects include account books, articles, clippings, commemorative programs, postcards, prints, program covers, sheet music covers, and ticket stubs. A series of cigarette cards depicts several theater exteriors in vibrant colors. Production indexes for different theaters list the building’s timeline of performances and were created as part of a Works Progress Administration project and donated to the Museum in 1943. The collection also holds reports from the Landmark Preservation Commission detailing the history of many theaters and their significance to the built environment of New York City. Photographs are organized separately and include exterior, interior, and architectural detail close-ups. The collection is limited to buildings used primarily for theatrical performances. Spaces built for concerts, opera, or as motion picture venues are not found in this collection including material on Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Opera House, and Town Hall. Further details on collection content can be found in the Series Description and the Container list.

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