Last week the Tabor Opera House underwent an effort to catalogue and document all of the theater’s painted set pieces through a volunteer-supported workshop that ran for five days.
The Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation has been working towards a robust restoration of the building and facilities, but this project is a separate undertaking, Mary Ann Graham-Best, president of the Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation, said.
The Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation hired Wendy Waszut-Barrett of Historic Stage Services out of Minneapolis, Minnesota, to lead the project, according to Graham-Best.
The main goal was “to document the scenery, because it may be one of the largest intact collections remaining in North America,” Wendy Waszut-Barrett, president and founder of Historic Stage Services LLC, said.
On Feb. 3, volunteers attended an orientation where they learned about the creation of the pieces they were preparing to document and catalogue.
Throughout the week, volunteers, with the guidance of Waszut-Barrett, unpacked painted set pieces, examined them for noteworthy details, photographed the pieces, and learned how to properly store and move the pieces.
Ruth Spencer, a local volunteer, said “I had no idea that all these things were here. Now that I’ve done this, I’m really excited about doing more.”
The workshop hoped for 10 volunteers per day, but each day saw at least that many volunteers, sometimes as many as 12.
Originally, Waszut-Barrett was anticipating documenting two complete collections of painted set pieces that the The Tabor Opera House owns, but on the fourth day the crew discovered a third complete collection, adding to the significance of the project.
“Leadville has had an amazing series of stewards taking care of this opera house, in particular the scenery,” Waszut-Barrett said
After documenting the scenery, Waszut-Barrett will create three documents detailing the condition of the set pieces, a replacement appraisal, and a collections care report.
“This is the small part of the project,” Waszut-Barret said of the documentation efforts. “The big part is writing up the three things.”
Graham-Best indicated that the cataloguing effort will cost about $30,000, with funding coming from a variety of grants, local organizations, and fundraising efforts on the part of the Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation.
Though the focus has been on cataloguing and documenting the extensive collection, minor repairs have been made along the way.
The Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation will facilitate a second public effort this spring to continue documenting set pieces.