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The Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute’s collections will be moving into the Ohio State University main library once renovations on the structure are completed. USITT recently completed the donation of material from esteemed designer Jo Mielziner to the Theatre Research Institute.

Photo/Courtesy Ohio State University

Mielziner Materials at Ohio State

Carl Lefko
USITT President

A hearty congratulations should go to all those involved in helping complete the process to allow a large collection of drawings and sketches by the renowned designer Jo Mielziner to find a new home at the Jerome Lawrence & Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute (TRI) at The Ohio State University.

The gift, five large boxes of materials, included draftings for theatres, buildings, and special events around the country such as the 1945 convocation in San Francisco which established the United Nations.

It was wonderful to see USITT”s gift acknowledged in TRI’s holiday letter. TRI is an unusual collaboration, as it is jointly administered by the OSU Libraries and the Department of Theatre.

Richard Stephens, USITT Archivist, was key in helping place these materials where they will be more accessible to scholars and researchers. Also key was Mark Shanda, Chair of the Department of Theatre and a Director at Large for USITT, who suggested OSU as an appropriate repository and worked to have the donation move forward.

“This is a set of work that is fascinating” said Nena Couch, curator and professor, who administers TRI’s collections. While she has not yet had time to evaluate all the materials, she noted this is “full of research riches” especially since Mr. Mielziner was one of those great designers who worked in so many areas.

One synergy that came about because of the donation is the USITT draftings join the research materials collected by Mary Henderson for her overarching biography Mielziner: Master of Modern Stage Design, which won the USITT Golden Pen Award in 2002.

Ms. Couch warns that the materials will not be immediately available, as the entire TRI collection is moving soon to the Columbus campus’ main library which is currently undergoing extensive renovations. When completed, TRI will have space adjoining a gallery designed to allow displays of its collections.

Once the move is completed, Ms. Couch expects that Mr. Mielziner’s work will have a very active research life, for both OSU students and a much wider audience.

Plans are already underway to have a display of Mielziner work in that gallery when USITT next visits Cincinnati for its 2015 Annual Conference. That level of advance planning will help ensure a great future for this collection. We are all very pleased to have found an appropriate home for these unique works that will now be accessible to future generations.

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