Aline Bernstein

Aline Bernstein was one of the first theatrical designers in New York to make sets and costumes entirely from scratch and crafted sets with moving parts that could be rearranged. Bernstein met the owners of the Neighborhood Playhouse while volunteering at the Henry Street Settlement House and began designing sets for them. She saw the theater’s small budget as a creative challenge and her set for The Dybbuk was praised as “a Rembrandt canvas.” She began designing for other theaters and built a formidable reputation. In 1928, Bernstein became the designer for the Civic Repertory Company, creating sets with moveable parts that could be adapted to different plays. In later life, she designed sets for the Theatre Guild and various independent producers, winning numerous awards for her work on the plays of Lillian Hellman, James Thurber, and Elmer Rice, among others, and a Tony for her costume design for Regina in 1949. She later founded the Costume Museum and began writing fiction, earning praise from May Sarton for The Journey Down.


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A photograph of theatrical designer and writer Aline Bernstein taken by Carl Van Vechten on February 26, 1933.

Courtesy of Van Vechten Trust.

Date of Birth

New York, NY
United States

Date of Death
Designer, Writer, Volunteer, Founder

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Aline Bernstein." (Viewed on February 21, 2020) <>.


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