Saline Arts & Culture Committee Launches New Bixby Marionette Website


The Art and Culture Committee is promoting a new website. Over the last year the committee has been digitizing parts of Meredith Bixby’s archive to make the content accessible to a broader public.

Toward the end of 2019, the committee received a development grant from the Michigan Council on Art and Cultural Affairs to learn best practices to digitize archives. It allowed them to hire a consultant, Brian Wilson, who by day is a senior manager in the archives and library at The Henry Ford. "Due to the pandemic, the outcome of the consultation was recorded so members of the committee would have access remotely," stated Kathy Krone, who chairs the committee. She noted they could also be accessed by future committee members who work on the project.

Over the course of the year, the committee also digitized about 100 items from the archive to represent the variety of materials that are within it. The website contains examples of letters, posters, photos, reviews, and drawings: both by Bixby, and by school children who would try to recapture the performance in crayon. The committee is also showcasing a few images of marionettes on the website, as well as some of the props that they photographed last year. In scope, the materials scanned aren’t dissimilar from what the committee displayed at the Saline District Library last winter.

Meredith Bixby, who died in 2002, was a local resident who made his living touring marionette productions to schools and festivals throughout the Midwest and South: from 1932 until his retirement in 1982. Among the plays in his repertoire were familiar works like Pinocchio, Aladdin, and The Wizard of Oz, as well as less familiar tales from Russian folklore, like The Golden Fish, and The Humpbacked Horse. In 1997 Bixby entrusted the city with his marionettes, props, and archive of papers. The following year, a museum opened downtown, along Michigan Avenue, displaying artifacts from the trust. A decade later, the museum closed due to the Great Recession.

While Bixby largely performed for children, he was a founding member of Puppeteers of America, and worked with over 75 assistants throughout his fifty-year career, some of whom went to form their own marionette and puppeteering troupes. "Given the longevity of his career, and his impact, the committee began taking steps to digitize his papers two years ago," says Krone. But, with an estimated seven linear feet of materials, she's quick to point out, it won't all be online anytime soon. "It's a volunteer committee."

The archive website can be found at

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