Theater Museums in Europe

May 17, 2006

Housing a century or more of history and the memory of countless performances, theaters in Europe have amassed a wealth of costumes, artwork, posters, photography and props. A number of these theaters put their collections on display. We have compiled here a sampling of theaters that have onsite museums open to the public.


Shakespeare's Globe Theatre features an exhibition, adjacent to the theater, which recounts Sam Wannamaker's path to rebuilding the Globe, the history of the original theater, and background on the section of London in which it stood. The exhibition and museum also houses interesting installations of costuming techniques and props from plays of Shakespeare's time. The exhibit is open daily. Admission is free with the purchase of a theater tour. The theater is a 10-minute walk from the Mansion House tube station.

The Royal Opera House, though it does not have a formal museum, has costumes, artwork and photos sprinkled about in the foyer, floral hall, and hallways. The opera house does however offer one of the best backstage theater tours in Europe, which takes visitors through the costume and set workshops as well as the dance studios and near the stage wings. The theater is located at Covent Garden.


The Palais Garnier, the theater in which the Paris Opera performs, features a small museum with photography, paintings, and artifacts from its famed history. The exhibits change regularly. Admission is free with the purchase of a ticket to tour the theater. The theater is located at the Opera metro stop and is open daily.


The museum at Teatro alla Scala contains a collection of paintings, portraits, statues, costumes, and documents related to opera and La Scala's history. The museum also includes a tribute to the world’s great composers. Visit the museum daily. It is located on Largo Ghiringhelli 1 at Piazza Scala.


The museum at the Vienna State Opera documents events of the opera house's history, such as premieres, major productions, and historic figures with costumes, stage designs, programs and other artifacts. Special exhibitions rotate on a regular basis.

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