The original core of Burcardo consists of Luigi Rasi's collections. Actor as a young man, then director of the Acting School of Florence and learned theatre historian, he was a passionate collector as well. His collection comprehended all the kinds of materials currently present, books and artistic objects. After Rasi's death in 1918, the entire collection, which had vainly been offered to the Ministry of Education, was purchased by the Italian Society for the Rights of Authors and Publishers (S.I.A.E.), thanks to its President Marco Praga's (a famous playwright and critic) interest. Later on, after moving from Milan to Rome in 1926, the Society decided to give an appropriate location to its collection and obtained from the Governorate of Rome the use of the late gothic Palazzetto del Burcardo. The Biblioteca e Raccolta Teatrale del Burcardo was opened in 1932. The small museum housed in the rooms of the Palazzetto was regarded only as the starting-point for the establishment of a larger and more important museum institution.
In fact, other important collections have been added to the first: the collection Cesare Levi, made up mostly of books and periodicals, Capranica (letters, business papers, play-bills), the archives Boutet and Re Riccardi (letters), the collection Bevacqua (correspondance, photographs), Guidarino Guidi (play-bills and theatre programmes), Gastone Bosio (photos), Petrucci (prints and drawings), Petrolini (costumes, paintings, prints, sculptures), Onorato (caricatures), Carelli (scenography sketches) and many others of various kinds and dimensions.
The Burcardo Theatre Collection includes:
- Promptbooks, manuscripts and autographs
- The photo archive
- Playbills, programmes and placards
- Paintings, drawings and prints
- Sculptures and puppets
- Costumes, accessories, props