The Archives and Manuscripts Department holds a unique collection of documents related to Russian theatre. There are more than 200 thousand units. There are manuscripts of plays and articles, director’s notes and copies of plays, drafts, texts of roles with actors' marks, letters, diaries, notebooks, memoirs, photographs, programmes, playbills, and other documents.
The collection of Aleksey Bakhrushin and the ballet historian Yury Bakhrushin reflects the history of our museum and Aleksey Bakhrushin's activity at the Council of the Russian Theatre Society, Vvedensky People’s House, State Academy of Art Sciences. There are many letters written by Maria Yermolova, Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, Leonid Sobinov, Konstantin Stanislavsky, Feodor Chaliapin, and other theatre people.
The pre-revolution theatre collection possesses 18th century documents of the Volkov brothers and Pyotr Plavilsсhikov – the founders of Russian professional theatre. There are documents of Mikhail Shchepkin, Pavel Mochalov, Maria Yermolova, Varvara Asenkova, Vera Komissarzhevskaya, Maria Savina, the Karatygins, the Borozdins, the Muzils, the Ryzhovs, the Sadovskys, and other actors and directors. The history of capital and provincial private theatre is represented by the collections of Anna Brenko, Sergey Zimin, Fyodor Korsch, Mikhail Lentovsky, Savva Mamontov et al.
The Alexander Ostrovsky collection keeps his manuscripts, letters by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolay Nekrasov, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Ivan Turgenev, and others. The Anton Chekhov collection contains the manuscript of “The Jubilee”, censored copies of “The Jubilee”, Ivanov. The Alexander Griboyedov collection owns Griboyedov’s manuscripts and hand-written copies of “Woe from Wit” that circulated throughout the country in the 19th century. There are also documents of playwrights who shaped repertoires in the late 19th — early 20th centuries: Pyotr Gnedich, Victor Krylov, Tatiana Shchepkina-Kupernik, Aleksandr Volodin, Viktor Rozov et al.
Modern drama theatre collections contain documents of directors Yevgeny Vakhtangov, Fyodor Kaverin, Vsevolod Meyerhold, Konstantin Stanislavsky, Alexander Tairov, Grigory Alexandrov, Natalya Sats, Anatoly Efros et al. We keep papers of Mikhail Chekhov, Alisa Koonen, Lyubov Orlova, Oleg Dal, Eugeny Leonov, Olga Lepeshinskaya, Sergey Martinson, the Mironovs and Alexander Menaker, Anatoly Papanov, Innokenty Smoktunovsky, Galina Ulanova, Nikolay Cherkasov, Evgeny Vesnik, Aleksandr Shirvindt, and other famous actors.
Music theatre is mirrored in documents of composers Mily Balakirev, Igor Stravinsky, Mikhail Glinka, Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Sergei Prokofiev; choreographers Marius Petipa, Alexander Gorsky, Kasian Goleizovsky; ballet dancers Olga Lepeshinskaya, Galina Ulanova, Ekaterina Geltser; singers Pauline García-Viardot, Leonid Sobinov, Feodor Chaliapin, Irina Arkhipova et al. The museum treasures autographs of great Russian composers.
The history of theatrical decorative art is represented by documents of Mikhail Bocharov, the Waltzs, Alexander Golovin, Konstantin Korovin, Andreas Roller, Vasiliy Polenov, Svetlana Sladkovskaya, Robert Falk.
The department has archives of the Imperial Theatre's directors: Ivan Vsevolozhsky, Alexander and Stepan Gedeonov. The Vladimir Telyakovsky collection is of particular value: his diary presents a detailed chronicle of St Petersburg's and Moscow's theatrical life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are also papers of theatrologists and theatrical figures.
The department holds collections of documents of organizations: theatres, studios, associations, societies, and publishers. Materials of frontline theatres and brigades occupy a special place in the museum’s collection.