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Bixby Marionettes Trust


Publicity Photo, c. 1955
Publicity Photo, c. 1955 

Meredith Bixby's "Meredith Marionettes Touring Company" toured the Midwest and south for more than 40 years, producing over 20,000 performances in schools, theaters, and community centers.
Meredith studied at the Art Students League in New York in the early 1930s. Among his teachers was Thomas Hart Benton—then a lesser-known artist—and several of his classmates went on to be employed by the Works Progress Administration, painting murals in post offices. Meredith was introduced to the art of marionette-making while working at the New York Public Library, and shortly after began making marionette shows with his wife Thyra. They continued making and touring marionette productions after returning to Detroit in the late 1930s, eventually moving to Saline after World War II. Thyra died from cancer in 1972, but encouraged her husband to continue producing and touring shows prior to her death. Meredith retired from touring productions in 1982.

Production Still: Jack and the Bean Stalk, c. 1970

In 1997, Meredith Bixby made the City of Saline trustee for this extensive collection of over 100 marionettes, 50 square feet of props and sets, and seven linear feet of archives.
Since 2017, the Arts and Culture Committee has overseen the management and display of the collections. With the help of volunteers throughout the city, they organized the archive in early 2019, and with the help of Hilary Severyn, a graduate student enrolled in the University of Michigan’s School of Information, developed a finding guide.
In 2019, the Committee received a grant to receive training on digitizing the collection from Brian Wilson a digital archivist at The Henry Ford. The activity was supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, The Arts Alliance, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Please follow this link to view the first images digitized in the collection.


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Displays from the marionette collection can be found in the lobby of City Hall, in the Board Room of Liberty School, and in two displays within the Saline District Library : near the west entrance, and in the map room.

Saline District Library Display: Enchanted Birds