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Peter Wexler papers

Identifier: BUSC-2011-002


Peter Wexler (1936 - 2022) worked for seven decades in performance art, as a designer of scenery, costumes, lighting, concerts, performance space, and outdoor concert facilities, as well as a producer and as a studio artist. He studied at the University of Michigan, graduating in 1958, and attended the Yale School of Drama.

The Peter Wexler papers contain materials from his professional career from 1948 to 1969. This collection includes programs, reviews, correspondence, production plans, notes, and photographs, as well as drawings and prints of lighting, set, stage, and costume designs, and photographs and paint elevations.


  • 1948 - 1969


Biographical Note

Born in Brooklyn at the height of the Depression, Peter Wexler was an avid fan of the arts from a young age. As a child he attended Children's Concerts at Carnegie Hall and children's art classes at MoMA. He spent his summers as a teen as an apprentice to the Cleveland Playhouse in Chautauqua, New York (the Cleveland Playhouse's summer home), and then as the assistant scenic artist to Ed Gallager for the Chautauqua Opera Association.

In high school he spent his afternoons designing for school productions and drawing at the Art Student's League, while spending his evenings serving as one of Rudolf Bing's first acting, dance student-supers at the Metropolitan Opera. At the University of Michigan's School of Architecture and Design, Wexler studied painting, photography, and design, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Design, after which he enrolled in the Graduate School of Drama at Yale.

Wexler's career included tremendous achievements in collaborative art, as he worked in scene, costume, and lighting design and as a producer in theatre, opera, music, television, and film. On Broadway, he designed for such shows as Murderous Angels, The Trial of the Catonsville Nine, Camino Real, and In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer, while his off-Broadway designs include War and Peace at the Phoenix Theatre, Anthony and Cleopatra at the Hecksher Theatre, and Brecht on Brecht at the Theatre de Lys. He also designed operas for The Metropolitan Opera, and concerts for the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the L.A. Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Denver Symphony Orchestra.

Wexler's television credits include designs for The Merv Griffin Show, the Cleo Awards Ceremony, and ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings; and his film credits extend to Andy (1965), Happy Time (1967), Camino Real (1970), The Trial of the Catonsville Nine (1973), and Les Troyens (1973). He also helped establishe regional theatres, and consulted on the design of theatres and concert performance spaces. Serving as producer, he also worked on large outdoor music festivals for prominent artists and bands, such as Van Cliburn, Mstislav Rostropovich, the Dixie Chicks, and Willie Nelson; and large museum exhibitions for the Smithsonian Institution, among others.

Wexler received many awards for his work, and held 18 one-man shows.

Peter Wexler died on March 20, 2022, at the age of 85.


12 Linear Feet : Oversized materials stored separately one OS box (Box 28) and in 19 map case drawers (Map Case 8)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Peter Wexler, February 1970. Transferred from the Binghamton University Theatre Department to Special Collections in 2011.

Related Materials

At Binghamton University: The Max Reinhardt Archives and Library; The Tilly Losch Collection; The Loften Mitchell Collection; Don Boros Russian Theatre Collection, 1925-1936; The Theatre History Collection; Fritz Halbers Papers, Berthold Held Photographs, Meyer collection of concert and theater programs, Gottfried Reinhardt Papers. The Binghamton University Theatre Departments own several set design models by Peter Wexler.

Related Materials at other institutions: Papers of Peter Wexler at the University of Arizona, Tucson; Peter Wexler Photographs and Designs, 1957-1996 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Billy Rose Theatre Division: Peter Wexler Papers, 1979-1995 at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Division.

Guide to the Peter Wexler papers
Cheryl Spiese, Mary Tuttle
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections Repository

Binghamton NY 13902 USA