Exhibitions at the V&A's former branch museum in Covent Garden, the Theatre Museum which closed in 2007. New galleries devoted to the performing arts opened at the V&A in South Kensington in 2009.
The Redgraves: A Family on the Public Stage
For six generations the Redgrave family have been an enduring presence on the British stage and screen. This exhibition, based on the archive of Sir Michael Redgrave (1908-1985), charted the rise of this thespian dynasty and revealed the profound changes in theatre and entertainment that mirrored their emergence as star performers and celebrities.
Kenneth MacMillan - The Outsider
This exhibition celebrated the life and work of Sir Kenneth Macmillan and explored the ways in which he obscured the boundaries of balletic and theatrical conventions. Innovative, subversive and at times highly controversial, Macmillan’s style of choreography delved deeply into the human condition and gave concrete form to the darker themes of alienation, sex and violence. Using a variety of video, photographs and costumes, this exhibition revealed the artistic influences on Macmillan, as well as the impact that he made on the role and meaning of ballet within the theatrical world
Hirschfeld: Brits on Broadway
June 2005 - October 2005
This exhibition brought together an exemplary collection of Hirschfeld’s elegant, amusing, and often wryly perceptive drawings. Hirschfeld declared that "My contribution is to take the character - created by the playwright and acted by the actor - and reinvent it for the reader". Executed in his distinctive linear calligraphic style, these works depicted British drama in America from the mid 20th century until his death in 2003, and many had not been exhibited before.
May 2005 - October 2005
'The designer thinks in terms of the fourth dimension, the passage of time, not the stage picture but the moving stage picture' (Peter Brook). Displaying the two - three dimensional preparatory materials of contemporary British theatre designers, this exhibition highlighted the behind-the-scenes processes involved in creating the ‘fourth dimension’ of performance.
Peter Brook: 'What does theatre mean to you?'
March 2005 - September 2005
In this interactive response to Peter Brook’s work, visitors were encouraged to enter a white display case containing Brook’s text The Empty Space, and write, perform, explain or draw their reply to the question "What does theatre mean to you?".
Observe and Show: The Theatre Art of Michael Annals
November 2003 - May 2005
This retrospective of the work of set and costume designer Michael Annals included drawings and models as well as the original masks for The Royal Hunt of the Sun. From 1964 until1986 Annals collaborated with many directors and dramatists on plays, opera, ballet and film including Michael Blakemore, Peter Nichols and Michael Frayn.
January 2003 - November 2003
This display featured costumes, designs and video and commemorated the life of one of the most exciting and charismatic dancers of the 20th century.
December 2001 - January 2003
A display of costumes worn by Margot Fonteyn celebrate the Museum’s acquisition of five of the ballerina’s costumes with the support of The Friends of Margot Fonteyn.
Drawn to Fame: Theatrical Caricatures of Gilbert Sommerlad
November 2002 - November 2003
This exhibition displayed the work of Gilbert Sommerlad whose drawings of show business stars illustrated the changes in the entertainment industry from the theatre of the 1930s, through the heyday of radio, to the popularity of television stars in the 1950s and 1960s.
Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre
July 2002 - August 2003
This exhibition showcased the massive mechanical sculptures created by Russian sculptor-mechanic Eduard Bersudsky and theatre director Tatyana Jakovskaya. The ‘kinemats’ came alive to enact funny and tragic tales of the human spirit accompanied by music, shadows, and light.
The Lamplit Stage
November 2001 - May 2002
An exhibition about the versatile Fisher family who ran a theatrical circuit in East Anglia from the late 18th Century. The exhibition celebrates the Fisher family’s generous gift of its archives to the Theatre Museum.
Let Paul Robeson Sing!: A celebration of the life of Paul Robeson
‘The artist must elect to fight for freedom or for slavery. I have made my choice, I had no alternative’ (Paul Robeson). This exhibition charted how Paul Robeson’s political convictions increasingly informed his artistic choices, as he chose to sing concerts in support of freedom.
May 2001 - June 2002
‘We stepped into a world of life-size puppets which we could control, bean bag models, a maze made out of tape measures and a fluorescent flying saucer.’ This was one young visitor’s description of an interactive exhibition put on at the Theatre Museum in 2001 by the innovative children’s theatre company Theatre-Rites.
The Leacroft Legacy
Original ‘cut away’ drawings and watercolours of theatre buildings, from Ancient Greece to the present, by the late Richard Leacroft, whose archive his family donated to the Museum.
Opera in Britain
A display tracing the establishment of an opera tradition in the UK. It highlighted costumes from English National Opera productions including David Blight’s ‘punk’ Sphinx from Greek, and a recent gift of 18th century style costumes by David Walker for Der Rosenkavalier in 1975. Another section traced the establishment of a permanent opera company in Covent Garden.