Collections and archives

We have collected more than 10,000 items related to our shows and theatre history in Stratford-upon-Avon. Together they create a fascinating record of our theatre-making past.

A brown and gold cape with an elaborate collar decorated with fake leaves and feathers
Cloak worn by Dame Peggy Ashcroft as Cleopatra in 1953
© RSC – Image Licensing

Our collection brings to life the world of the theatre over 400 years. Stories of often ground breaking performances remind us of developing stagecraft and the early stage careers of familiar screen actors such as Judi Dench, Patrick Stewart and David Tennant.

The collection includes items dating from the 17th century to today. Charles Flower started collecting in 1879 as part of the original theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Objects include costume, set designs, props, photographs and visual art. They demonstrate the way theatrical performances have changed over time, and the way in which each director and designer has created their own vision of the play.

You can see some of our favourite collection items below and find out more about what we look after on our Collection Resources page.

See the collection

The Play's The Thing is a major new exhibition opening in June 2016, which brings together some of our favourite objects to tell this story.

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