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Dramatic Museum realia, 1700-1966

Series III: Stage Models

This collection contains 30 models, both models of historic theatres and set designs for specific productions. The models were acquired between 1911 and the 1960s. The set designs were largely the gifts of the various people involved with productions, from set designers to producers, and were acquired fairly consistently throughout the museum's existence. The theatre models, on the other hand, were either gifts of Brander Matthews and other Dramatic Museum patrons or directly commissioned by the Museum, and were planned to display the full history of the theater when taken together. Global breadth appears to have been the goal of the BMDM's curators, who were desirous of adding a Spanish theatre model to the collection.

A broad rather than deep collection, it nevertheless has concentrations of French, English, American, and Japanese models. The earliest model, depicting a production of Leah Kleschna at the Manhattan Theatre in New York, was built in 1904. The latest models, both set designs, were built in 1966 for Japanese productions.

The several Joseph Urban set models which the BMDM had collected to illustrate various parts of that influential man's career were added to the over 300 set models in the Joseph Urban Papers when his widow presented them to the Museum in 1955, and are described in the Urban finding aid.

The numbering is that used in Donald Pace's Catalogue of the Brander Matthews Collection of Theatre Models (New York: Barnard College, 1973).

External users and Columbia affiliates may view materials on-site at RBML. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only Columbia affiliates may view materials on-site at Avery, Starr, and Burke. After clicking 'Submit Request', users will login with their UNI and password (Columbia affiliates) or their special collections account (external users). Appointments are required and will be arranged according to each individual repository's policy.



Subseries III.1: Historical Models


Model of the Roman Theatre in Orange, France built in the 2nd century CE

Model shows large auditorium, stage, and elaborate scaenae frons as they probably appeared during the time of the theatre's use until its closing in the fourth century. Exterior and interior shown in great detail. Scale is 1:100.



Location: RBML Mezzanine Model of a platform stage for the Valenciennes Mystery Play; France, 1547

Model is based on frontispiece of the manuscript of the Valenciennes Mystery Play, illustrated by Hubert Cailleau. God's throne and Hell's mouth frame the large stage, with a number of 'stations' in between. Created by Duvignaud and Gabin under the direction of Marius Sepet. Scale is 3:100.


Model of an English medieval pageant wagon of the 14th century

Conjectural model of a pageant wagon, halted in town square for the Chester Play ofNoah.Based on a 1911 production by Winthrop Ames at the New Theatre in New York. Created by Joseph Wickes under the direction of Hamilton Bell. Scale is 1:24.


Model of a platform stage in an English innyard of the 16th century

King's Players performingThe Nice Wanton(1550) on a scaffold stage in a Tudor innyard. Based on a 1911 production by Winthrop Ames at the New Theatre in New York. Created by Joseph Wickes under the direction of Hamilton Bell. Scale is 1:24.



Location: RBML- near Donor's Room Model of the Fortune Theatre; London, 1600

The Fortune playhouse opened one year after the Globe. Created by James P. Maginnis under the direction of Walter H. Godfrey. Scale is 3:100.


Model of a Renaissance theater setting of the early 16th century, based on Serlio

Model represents a combination of Serlio's comic and tragic settings, illustrating the use of forced perspective popular with Renaissance designers. Created by Joseph Wickes under the direction of Hamilton Bell.


Model of the setting for La Folie de Clidamant by Alexandre Hardy as seen at the Hotel de Bourgogne, Paris, ca. 1630

Shows the use of simultaneous settings at the Hotel de Bourgogne. With B11, shows differing methods of staging in 17th century French theatre. Based on sketch inLe Memoire de Mahelot;created by Davignaud and Gabin under the direction of Emile Perrin.


Model of the 17th century Theatre du Palais-Royal, Paris

Small cross-sectional model of the interior of the first theatre in France with a permanent proscenium and a stage designed for wing and drop scenery. Theater opened 1641; Moliere's theatrical home 1660-73.


Model of the 17th century Theatre du Palais-Royal, Paris

Small cross-sectional model of the interior of the first theatre in France with a permanent proscenium and a stage designed for wing and drop scenery. Theater opened 1641; Moliere's theatrical home 1660-73.


Model of the Salle des Machines, theater in the Tuilieries, Paris, in 1671

Represents a setting forPsycheby Moliere and Corneille, based upon a 1906 revival of the play at the Theatre Francaise. With B08, the model illustrates differing methods of staging in 17th century French theatre. La Salles de Machines was a large and extravagently-equipped theatre built by Gaspare Vigarani in a wing of the Tuileries.


Model of an outdoor theatre at Versailles, 1664

RepresentsLes Plaisirs de l'Isle Enchantee,a ballet with text and choreography by Moliere, commissioned by Louis XIV. The spectacle was performed in May 1664 on a stage built especially for the occasion. Model based on an engraving by Israel Sylvestre.


Model of the Duke of York's Playhouse, London, 1661

Model shows the deep apron, proscenium doors, and wing and drop scenery typical of theatres during the Restoration. A converted indoor tennis court, the Duke's Playhouse opened in January 1661. Created by Klaus Holm from research by Dr. Elizabeth Scanlan.


Model of the Drury Lane; London, 1778

Depiction of the "screen scene" fromA School for Scandalby Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Shows the use of wing and drop scenery on a deep stage, the depth of the forestage, proscenium doors, and stage boxes. Created by James P. Maginnis under the direction of Walter H. Godfrey, based on a contemporary print.



Location: RBML Mezzanine Set model for Legend of the White Snake; Chinese Mechanical Theatre

Large representation of a scene from the Chinese classical work


Toy Orchestra


Subseries III.2: Set Models


Set model for Les Deux Trouvailles de Gallus, Comedie Francaise, 1923

Model of the setting forLes Deux Trouvailles du Gallus,a combination of Victor Hugo's playsMargaritaandEsca.


Set model for Leah Kleschna Manhattan Theatre, New York,, 1904

Set model of fifth act ofLeah Kleschna,an orchard near Neustadt, Austria. The Manhattan Theatre (not to be confused with Hammerstein's Manhattan on 34th between Broadway and 6th Avenue) stood at 6th Ave and 33rd St.


Set model for Herod Lyric Theatre, New York,, 1909

Depiction of Herod at the Lyric Theatre on 42nd St between Broadway and 8th Ave. The setting reflects the opulence of early 19th century settings and a pioneering use of varying levels. Designed by Ernest Albert of the Lee-Lash Studios.


Location: RBML Mezzanine Set model for Return of Peter Grimm Belasco Theatre, New York,, 1910

Depiction of the elaborate stage setting for which Belasco was famous. Masking and backstage effects are painstakingly recreated. The theatre had the most advanced lighting equipment of its day.


Set model for Garden of Allah Century Theatre, New York,, 1911

For the scene represented in the model, real desert plants were imported. The Century Theatre stood at Central park West and 62nd Street.


Set model for Oliver Twist New Amsterdam Theatre; New York,, 1912

Depicts a section of the Thames near London Bridge, the setting of Act IV, Scene I. The New Amsterdam Theatre was at 214 West 42nd St.


Set model for Prunella Little Theatre, New York, 1913

Setting is a formal garden with a high wall across the back. The Little Theatre at 240 West 44th St. was one of the first off-Broadway theatres.


Set model for Abduction from the Seraglio (Mozart/Stephani), Metropolitan Opera; New York, 1946


Set model for Warrior's Husband (Thompson), Morosco Theatre, New York,, 1932


Set model for The Island God (Menotti), Metropolitan Opera, New York,, 1942


Set model for Todo by Nogami Yaeko, Geikyo Troupe; Haiyuza Theatre, 1965


Set model for Honcho Nijusho (Chikamatsu Hanji), Imperial Theatre, Tokyo,, circa 1925

Large model of two settings for the second act ofHoncho Nijusho.On the upper level is the setting for the first scene, a lakeside palace. Below it is one for the second scene, the palace garden. Shown are indications of the permanent stage house surrounding the setting.


Set model for Kamisori (Razor) by Kichizo Nakamura, Nippon Geigitso Gekijo; Tokyo,, 1966


Ejima Ikushima (Ejima and Ikushima) by Hakucho Masamune, 1966


Set model for Machigai (Mistake) by Hakucho Masamune, Kase Troupe; Tokyo, 1965


Set model for Blood Wedding by Frederico Garcia Lorca,, 1965