Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum

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The Brander Matthews Dramatic Museum was one of the country's oldest theater collections. Begun as a personal collection in 1911 by Professor Brander Matthews, the Museum grew to include a vast collection of puppets, masks, posters, manuscripts and other assorted artifacts. Matthews, the first professor of dramatic literature in the US, believed that the best way to study drama was exposure to the artifacts of the art form.

The museum was originally independently managed and housed on the 3rd floor of Philosophy. Years later it was integrated into the University Libraries system and moved to Low Library over the strenuous objections of its curator. The museum remained open on the 4th floor of Low until 1971 when the administration's need for space led to the Museum's closing and the collection's dispersal across the library system.

Today much of the collection remains in storage where it is largely unpreserved and steadily decaying, and as a result largely inaccessible to researchers. The notable exception is an extensive collection of designer Joseph Urban's stage models which were painstakingly restored and exhibited by the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. In order to shed some light on the largely forgotten collection, the RBML exhibited work from the collection in 2005.

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