Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

email signup Blog Video Facebook Twitter Instagram

Vaudeville! January 29, 2018–July 15, 2018

For more than a century, vaudeville was the most popular form of American entertainment and one of the country's largest cultural exports. Performances on the vaudeville stage included comic sketches, acrobatics, animal tricks, magic, blackface performance, celebrity appearances, early film, and more. Shows featuring immigrant acts, racial stereotypes, and frequent appeals to nationalism defined a complex and often problematic sense of American identity at the turn of the 19th century.

Explore vaudeville's influences from Roman mimes to the saloons of the American frontier. Learn what life on the road was like for the thousands of entertainers who traveled around the country performing in theatres that were part of a vast network of venues, and witness the mid-century revival of vaudeville's relevance in musical theatre, radio, film, television, and the internet. See artifacts related to some of Vaudeville's best-known performers—Harry Houdini, Mae West, W. C. Fields, Bert Williams, George M. Cohan, Burns & Allen, Tony Pastor, the Nicholas Brothers, Barbette, and more.

The exhibition features the Ransom Center's extensive holdings of Harry Houdini, Tony Pastor, and Florenz Ziegfeld, among others, to show the development of vaudeville's highly organized form and its long-lasting impact on contemporary film, television, and comedy.

Read the Wall Street Journal's review of Vaudeville!



Sign up to receive the most up-to-date information about the Ransom Center with our monthly eNews.





Media Contacts for members of the press

Jennifer Tisdale
512-471-8949

Suzanne Krause
512-471-6406

Connect with the
Harry Ransom Center
Flickr YouTube RSS Tumblr Facebook Twitter
About the Center

The Harry Ransom Center, a world-renowned humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, houses extensive collections of literature, film, art, photography, and the performing arts.

Exhibition Poster