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Published Wednesday 15 December 2010 at 11:36 by Natalie Woolman

 

Britain’s largest private collection of musical theatre memorabilia is to be left to the nation, it was announced today.

 

Rexton S Bunnett created Overtures - The Bunnett-Muir Musical Theatre Archive Trust with the collection he had developed with his late partner John Muir since the 1950s. The 25,000 item collection includes recordings, posters, scripts, books and designs documenting the development of musical theatre since the 19th century in the UK and on broadway.

 

Today’s announcement means that the collection will formally transfer to the Victoria and Albert Museum when Bunnett dies and the museum will be responsible for public access to it.

 

Bunnett commented: “I now want to ensure that the collection remains together and can be made available to the public and specialist researchers. Musicals are not only hugely popular and great entertainment but are often an accurate reflection of broader changes within society which can be seen is shows such as Me and My Girl and Fings Ain’t What They Used To Be.”

 

He added: “Our national museums are great institutions because generations of private collectors have enriched their collections in the past. It is particularly important at times such as these, when funding is constrained, that this tradition continues so that the public will have access in the future to material which records the arts in our own times.”