American anthropology museum founded in Los Angeles, California, affiliated with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Initially established in 1963 as the UCLA Museum of Cultural History, since 1990 it has been renamed the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History.
The collection has over 1,300 puppets representing the great traditions of Asia: 504 from China, 300 from Indonesia, 271 from India, 154 from Turkey, 63 from Thailand, 15 from Malaysia, 7 from Vietnam, 4 from Burma (Myanmar), 3 from Korea, 1 from Japan. The depth and diversity of this Asian collection is largely because of the generosity and scholarship of Melvyn B. Helstien.
Melvyn B. Helstien (1920-1990) graduated from Yale (MFA, 1948) and the University of Minnesota (PhD, 1962), and taught at UCLA from 1948 to 1986. He introduced puppetry to the UCLA Department of Theatre Arts in 1954, and the programme continued until his retirement in 1986. In 1957, the national festival of Puppeteers of America was held at UCLA with Professor Helstien as co-director. He served two terms as president of UNIMA-USA. He travelled extensively in Asia, teaching, doing research and collecting puppets. His book, Asian Puppets: Wall of the World (1976; Melvyn Helstien is not credited as editor), is a standard reference work on Asian puppetry.
(See United States of America.)
- UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. Asian Puppets: Wall of the World. [Ed. Melvyn Helstien]. Los Angeles: Univ. of California, 1976.