The Fine and Performing Arts collections contain a number of notable works; for example, medieval music manuscripts and early printed works such as Musica Transalpina, L’Art du Facteur d’Orgues, Histoire de la Notation Musicale, and Orpheus Britannicus. In addition to important books of plates, woodcuts, engravings, and etchings, Special Collections has original works of art by William Sommer, Frank Wilcox, Abraham Warshawsky, Malvina Hoffman, and William McVey. Fine arts materials exist within larger collections as well, such as the WPA prints in the Ernest J. Bohn Housing and Planning Library. Kelvin Smith Library is also home to the archival collections of the Cleveland Play House, SPACES Gallery, and Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa).
The collection consists of office files, artists files, audio and video recordings, programs, posters, photographs and artifacts and ephemera relating to the Performance Art Festival (PAF) held annually from 1988-1999 in Cleveland, Ohio. PAF was the largest event of its kind, attracting artists from around the world. Created and collected by festival founder Thomas Mulready, the PAF Archive was donated to Case Western Reserve University in 2015.
Browse our Digital Case collection of Performance Art Festival materials.
Search the Performance Art Festival Finding Aid.
In December 2011 the Kelvin Smith Library acquired the Archives of the Cleveland Play House. Founded in 1915, the Cleveland Play House is America’s first professional regional theatre. The archives include correspondence, photographs, posters, legal and financial records, design drawings, audio and video tapes from the founding of the Play House through 2011.
"When one surveys the existing and available archival record of professional theatre, it would be hard to find a comparable collection,” said Arnold Hirshon, Associate Provost & University Librarian when the gift was made. “The Cleveland Play House archives are an unparalleled resource for researchers studying the emergence and development of the American regional theatre movement, as well as a treasure trove of information about the general and cultural history of Cleveland."
Browse our Digital Case collection of Cleveland Play House materials.
Search the Cleveland Play House Finding Aid.
The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland Archive is the institutional record of the organization and the contemporary artists whose work has been curated for exhibit in their galleries. The archive consists primarily of administrative office files, artist files, exhibition files, reports, exhibit catalogs, publications, clippings, audio visual materials and marketing materials.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (moCa) Cleveland was founded in 1968 by Marjorie Talalay, Nina Sundell and Agnes Gund as The New Gallery to showcase contemporary art and introduce it to Clevelanders with the works of cutting edge artists such as Christo, Jasper Johns, and Laurie Anderson. In 1974, the New Gallery became a non-profit, and in 1984, changed its name to Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art. In 2002, the organization’s name was changed to Museum of Contemporary Art (moCa) Cleveland.
Browse our Digital Case collection of moCa Cleveland materials.
Search the moCa Cleveland Archive Finding Aid.
The SPACES Archive is the institutional record of the organization and of the artists whose work has been curated for exhibit in their galleries. The archive consists primarily of administrative office files, artist files, exhibition files, reports, exhibit catalogs, publications, clippings, audio visual materials and marketing materials.
Registered as a non-profit educational organization named "Aeolus" in 1978, SPACES (renamed in 1979) was conceived by founder James Rosenberger as a place explore alternative approaches to art activity. SPACES commissions artists from around the world—at all stages of their careers—to make new work that is responsive to timely issues, creates educational initiatives that help develop a more informed citizenry, and distributes grants to artists outside of our residency and exhibition programs.
Browse our Digital Case collection of SPACES materials.
During the 1930s, there was catastrophic unemployment in the country. A federal project was put in place in 1935, called "Work Projects Administration," which would utilize the skills of out-of-work employees helping them to earn a small wage to survive. Previous efforts had begun in 1933 to assist unemployed artists under the Public Works of Art Project established by the Treasury Department. The country was divided into sixteen regions, one of which was the Cleveland region. Two people were instrumental in the success of the Cleveland effort - William M. Milliken, Director of the Cleveland Museum of Art and Linda A. Eastman, Director of the Cleveland Public Library. The significant benefit of their collaboration and leadership was a regional approach to art that exemplified and identified the "Cleveland Scene." In 1935, the Works Progress Administration took over the support of artists on relief and hired hundreds of workers for the Federal Art Project in music, theater, writing and art, the Federal Art Project alone employed 350 Cleveland artists. Special Collections staff have compiled biographical descriptions of African American and women artists represented in the WPA Collection.
The WPA Collection is available in Digital Case.