- The Performing Arts Collection at the Arts Centre, Melbourne is Australia's largest collection of performing arts history
- The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (AIATSIS) has a large collection of sound recordings which cover languages, ceremonies, music and oral histories.
- The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) holds extensive audio-visual archives
Other outstanding Australian collections
The Library holds one of Australia’s largest collections of performing arts materials. These archives document the long and rich history of live performance in Australia, and Australians performing overseas.
The collections are an important record of the work of prominent individuals and organisations that have shaped our performing arts: companies, actors, dancers, singers, directors, choreographers, costume designers, production designers, agents and promoters. They cover a range of performing arts including dance, theatre, musical theatre and opera, circus, illusion and festivals.
Material in the collection includes:
- Printed material – general works, biographies, annual reports, newsletters and journals
- Manuscripts – papers and records of performers and organisations
- Pictures – photographs, artwork, and posters
- Oral histories – interviews and sound recordings
- Ephemera – theatre programs, broadsides, scrapbooks and related materials
- Music – recordings and sheet music
- Newspapers – in print and online
- Online resources
Major collections include the extensive archives of J.C. Williamson Ltd (1874-1976), the dominant theatrical agency in Australia for over a century; the papers of iconic artists including Dame Nellie Melba, designer Kristian Fredrikson, dancer and dance activist Margaret Walker, theatre producer Jim Sharman, and ballet performer Ross Stretton; and the theatre photographs of Don McMurdo.
In this guide
Find tips for researching the performing arts, specialised resources and collections, answers to frequently asked questions and research case studies.
Information is arranged by genre under the categories of Dance, Music (Performance), Theatre and Variety.
The highlights in this guide represent a sample of our extensive performing arts collection and, by necessity, will omit some persons and performances of significance. If you wish to find out about an artist or subject not featured here, please enquire through Ask a Librarian.