Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2010 Newsletter

Web exhibition explores costume designs for stage and screen

Costume design. Click to enlarge.

Percy Anderson (1851-1928). Costume design for Chu Chin Chow, 1916. Norman Williams as Abdullah.

The Ransom Center has launched the web exhibition A Tonic to the Imagination: Costume Designs for Stage and Screen by B. J. Simmons & Co., which highlights the work of the British theatrical costumier company from 1889 to 1959. Founded in 1857, Simmons & Co. dominated costume preparation in London for more than 100 years.

The exhibition highlights the immense scope of the Simmons & Co. archive and is intended to encourage research in the collection. The exhibition is organized into 10 categories of costume design and showcases 228 selected images drawn from 60 film and theater productions. The web exhibition was created as part of a project to catalog the Simmons collection. That project was partially funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Ransom Center acquired the voluminous archive of Simmons & Co. in two separate installments in 1983 and 1987. Comprising more than 500 boxes, the collection is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

A Tonic to the Imagination: Costume Designs for Stage and Screen


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