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Matthew Wittmann Named Curator of Harvard Theatre Collection

Matthew Wittmann, formerly of the American Numismatic Society, has been announced as curator of the Harvard Theatre Collection.


Harvard Theatre Collection curator Matthew Wittmann

Photo courtesy of Matthew Wittmann

Florence Fearrington Librarian of Houghton Library Thomas Hyry announced today that Matthew Wittmann has been named curator of the Harvard Theatre Collection. In this role, Wittmann will assume leadership for building, interpreting, and promoting engagement with and access to the collection’s diverse array of original materials related to the performing arts.

“The appointment of Matthew Wittmann heralds an exciting new chapter for the Harvard Theatre Collection and represents a renewed commitment to the documentation, preservation, and study of the performing arts at Houghton Library,” Hyry said. “We anticipate that Matthew will have a tremendous impact on the collection and on the international community of scholars, students, artists, and performers who engage with it.”

In his previous position as assistant curator of American coins and currency at the American Numismatic Society, Wittmann directed archival administration and collections management. Prior to this, Wittmann was also a postdoctoral fellow at the Bard Graduate Center, where he produced an award-winning exhibition and book entitled, Circus and the City: New York, 1793–2010. The exhibition used New York City as a lens through which to explore the history of the circus in the United States, and included over 225 objects from museums and collections around the country.

The American Circus, a publication he co-edited with Kenneth L. Ames and Susan Weber, won the Choice award for Outstanding American Title in 2013. He holds a PhD from the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan, and was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Sydney. Wittmann was also a Fulbright Scholar at Victoria University of Wellington in the Pacific Studies Programme, and holds a master of arts in history and a bachelor of arts from the University of Colorado—Boulder.

“Having visited the Harvard Theatre Collection before as a researcher, I have an inkling of the treasures it holds,” Wittmann said. “To be given the opportunity to understand the whole of it and to be entrusted with the development of the collection moving forward is something of a dream come true. I am excited to begin the work of expanding its presence at Harvard and beyond, and ensuring that the collection gets the recognition it so richly deserves.”

Founded in 1901, the Harvard Theatre Collection represents one of the oldest, largest, and finest performing arts collections in the world. As part of Houghton Library, it preserves and provides access to documentary material pertaining to the history of theatre, dance and ballet, and opera and musical theater. The collection holds a large number of archives of personal and organizational papers, which preserve the legacies of many significant figures and institutions in the performing arts. It also includes large numbers of rare books, manuscripts, letters, drawings, photographs, audiovisual materials, programs, playbills, promptbooks, set and costume designs, music, ephemera, and many other forms of documentation of performance and popular entertainment. 

Article published on November 9, 2015.