The history of the Theatre Museum
In 1987, Nikos S. Nikolaidis (1909-1989), who was an optician by profession and an amateur actor, donated his rare theatrical archive to the Municipality of Limassol. In doing so, he laid the foundations for the creation of the Cyprus Theatre Museum.
From an early age until his death, Nikolaidis systematically collected material relating to theatre and theatre activity in Cyprus. His decision to bequeath this important collection to the Municipality of Limassol was the beginning of a long period of research and practical efforts by the municipality and the Cyprus Theatre Organisation to set up a theatre museum, foreseeing the need to preserve the history of the country’s theatre.
The process of creating the appropriate space to house the Theatre Museum began in 1989, two years after the Nikolaidis donation was made. Following a generous donation from Panos Solomonidis to the Municipality of Limassol, the Kouvas lithography was purchased and transformed into the Panos Solomonidis Cultural Centre, which opened in 2010. Today the centre houses the Cyprus Theatre Museum, which, in addition to the Nikos S. Nikolaidis collection, also includes the Georgios Filis archive about the Cyprus Theatre Development Organisation (Othac), the photography archive of Giorgos Vatyliotis, material from the Thoc archive, as well as material from theatre professionals and companies that donated or loaned items from their collections.
The Cyprus Theatre Museum's permanent collection comprises printed material, costumes, scale models, props, set and costume designs, posters and photographs, enabling visitors to take a virtual tour of the country’s theatrical history.
The Cyprus Theatre Museum presents the history of theatrical activity in Cyprus from antiquity to the present day, starting with the ancient theatres of the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and ending in 2010. This historical review highlights the various aspects of the art of the theatre and the careers of theatre professionals.
The sections of the museum
A look back over some of the milestones in Cypriot theatre, with an emphasis on the periods that saw changes in the development of the theatre scene. This section features some of the oldest items in the collection, including a flyer advertising the visit of a Greek theatre company to Cyprus in 1912 and a costume belonging to Nikos S. Nikolaidis himself.
This section consists of photographs, scale models, sketches, costumes, posters and audio-visual material, and focuses on the key stages of a theatre production. The exhibits highlight all the individual crafts that make up the art of the theatre, showing how a production results from the creative collaboration of writers, directors, actors, set designers, costume designers, musicians, lighting designers, choreographers, and technicians. Some of the oldest exhibits includes sketches by Tilemachos Kanthos from the 1940s, a costume from the Chorus of Ajax (Thoc, 1973), and a model of the set of To neron tou Dropis (Thoc, 1974).
This is the main part of the museum, with costumes from important and iconic performances in the theatrical history of Cyprus. Particularly notable are Mother Courage’s costume from the Thoc’s 1977 production of Mother Courage and her children, and the costumes from Thoc's The Suppliants (1978).