The Theatre Museum houses collections of theatre-related artefacts from the 1880s to the present day:
• Costumes: costumes for theatre, opera and dance performances, and costume design sketches
• Stage sets: models, sketches, stage sets and props, backdrops
• Stage technology: lighting and other effects. An extensive collection of old lighting equipment from the Finnish National Theatre and the Alexander Theatre.
• Props: weapons, furniture, stage food etc.
• Makeup: makeup equipment, greasepaints, wigs and masks
• Puppetry: marionettes, puppets, rod puppets and shadow puppets
• Asian theatre collection: costumes, puppets and masks from China, Japan, Burma, Nepal and Indonesia, and elsewhere for instance. Costumes, sets and props from the reconstruction of ‘Snow in midsummer’ performed by the Chinese Kun opera.
The collections housed at the Theatre Museum are based on collections donated by the Central Organisation of Finnish Theatre Associations and the Finnish National Theatre in 1962, when the Museum was founded. Further donations have been made over the years by other theatres and organizations, theatre professionals and individuals. Since the 1990s, the Museum has particularly sought comprehensive documentation of modern stage performances, while applying an eclectic approach to new acquisitions, assessing the quality and value of the artefacts for future generations. Rather than individual artefacts, the Museum wishes to record the contexts surrounding them and the overall trends they are related to.
The core of the Museum’s extensive and valuable costume collection is formed by the costumes donated by the Finnish National Theatre in 1962. The collection contains costumes worn by stars of the old Finnish Theatre from the late 19th and early 20th century, such as those worn by Ida Aalberg as Kirsti Fleming in Elinan surma ‘The Death of Elina’, a play by Gustaf von Numers (first performed in 1891) and one worn by Axel Ahlberg for Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart (1880). The brightest gem in the collection is the costume worn by Aino Ackté for Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca (1906). This and many other costumes are displayed in the permanent exhibition opened in November 1999.
Examples of modern costume design include costumes designed by Anna Kontek for the Finnish National Opera’s production of The Nightingale in 1997, Kimmo Viskari’s sketches for Faust at the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 1999 and costumes designed by Marja Uusitalo for Little Stars, a 2000 dance performance by Katri Soini and Jyrki Karttunen.
The collection of sketches for set designs and costumes spans almost a century, from Karl Fager’s sketches for set designs for Faust at the 1915 Savonlinna Opera Festival to Ensio Suominen’s design for the production of Juha – luvaton rakkaus ‘Juha – a forbidden love’ at Lahti City Theatre in 1998. One of the rarer pieces of the collection is Matti Warén’s model for the set design for Caesar and Cleopatra at the Finnish National Theatre (1926) and R.U.R. (1928). The latest acquisitions include Markku Hakuri’s set design model for the joint production Drive or Die at the Marine Cable Hall of the Cable Factory (1994), Tiina Makkonen’s model for A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Helsinki City Theatre in 1989 and Kristine Elo’s design model for the 1997 television drama series Sydän toivoa täynnä ‘A heart full of hope’.
Street address: Cable Factory, door E, 3rd floor
Postal address: Tallberginkatu 1 /73, 00180 Helsinki
Information service, tel: +358 (0)40 1922 309, tietopalvelu[at]teatterimuseo.fi
Loans from and donations to the collections:
tel: +358 (0)40 1922 307, sanna.brander[at]teatterimuseo.fi