International Puppet Museum
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International Puppet Museum

The Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum was established in 1975 by the Association for the conservation of popular traditions. 

Since its foundation it has constantly referred to the criteria of contemporary museography for not being a temple of knowledge for the few, but a place of communication for widespread use. Traditional museographic activities have always been accompanied by live performances, creating one of the happiest examples of museographic research on theater.

The history of the Museum is inextricably linked to its founder, Antonio Pasqualino, who died in 1995, surgeon, distinguished anthropologist and lover of the history and popular traditions of his native Sicily.

 Antonio Pasqualino dedicated his research activity to a theatrical form which, in the second half of the twentieth century, seemed by now to be heading towards a progressive and unstoppable decline: the opera dei pupi, which narrated the Crusades and the Paladins of France, about which they had written , among others, masters of Italian literature, such as Ludovico Ariosto, Matteo Maria Boiardo and Torquato Tasso.

Antonio Pasqualino - together with a group of intellectuals - founded the Association for the conservation of popular traditions in 1965 and together with his wife Janne Vibaek collected many testimonies: from stage texts to puppets up to theaters and furnishings, saving them from destruction and from 'oblivion.

In 1975 the Association for the Conservation of Popular Traditions founded the International Puppet Museum where the puppets and the various materials collected over the years found their definitive arrangement. Among these, objects from numerous European and Far Eastern countries such as France, Spain, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, and many others.

Since then, there has been a succession of initiatives - such as the annual Morgana Festival which hosts artists from all over the world - and of cultural exchanges with similar structures in the five continents. In 1995 Antonio Pasqualino passed away and his name was given to the Museum.

The Puppet Museum expresses the desire to safeguard a form of precious theater in our history, but it also wants to be an opportunity to critically rethink this history, to reject the poison of local particularism, that sense of insularity that Sciascia spoke of as a dark evil. Through the representation of the legend of Charlemagne and his paladins, the Museum testifies to an ideal of European unity and above all wants to insert the puppet opera in the wide international framework of the animation theater, to re-establish through the comparison between similarities and differences a bond of solidarity between all human cultures.

The interdependence of the various activities of the Museum is evident. There Review of the puppet opera it became in 1985 Festival of Morgana assuming international relevance. The comparison with companies from other Italian and foreign traditions and schools has restored pride and professional dignity to Sicilian puppeteers and has given new life to their activities. The annual frequency of the Festival was also an opportunity to acquire new objects and laid the foundations for the systematic study of extra-European theatrical traditions and practices.
Traces of the relationship with the major national and international cultural institutions remain in the dense work of exhibitions and theatrical projects linked to the Sicilian tradition carried out abroad.

The theatrical project of the Museum also turned to the production of innovative shows and, in addition to stimulating the production of a new dramaturgy by contemporary writers and musicians (Italo Calvino, Francesco Pennisi, Luciano Berio), entrusted the creation of sets and puppets to painters or visual artists (Renato Guttuso, Tadeus Kantor, Enrico Baj), thus acquiring materials of great interest. 

The “Giuseppe Leggio” Library is annexed to the museum, which includes about seven thousand volumes on puppets and marionettes and on popular traditions. Particularly valuable are the collections of manuscript scripts of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and of knightly handouts published between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Museum also has a rich photographic archive, a video library and a tape library with recordings of puppetry shows from different countries.

Particular attention is paid to didactic activity. For school groups there are guided tours accompanied by video supports, while for school operators theoretical-practical courses are organized on the various techniques of animation theater. On request it is also possible to organize puppet opera shows.

The historical site

The new headquarters are located inside the former Hôtel de France, a building of great architectural and historical interest, in the ancient center of Palermo, a few steps from the monumental Piazza Marina. Recently the square in front was named after the founder of the Museum.
The museum is spread over three levels and houses numerous exhibition spaces, a bookshop, a library, a video library, a tape library and a room capable of hosting a substantial theatrical program.
An avant-garde and precious museum for Sicily dedicated to a theatrical form, such as the opera of the puppets declared by Unesco Masterpiece of the intangible and oral heritage of Humanity (2001) 


The Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum has recently expanded the range of services offered to the public. Guided tours and shows also on request, at different times than usual; courses, workshops and theatrical performances (even other than the puppet opera) for universities and schools; exhibitions, conferences, debates.

The Museum, in agreement with the tour operators, hosts groups and groups of tourists, during normal opening hours or overtime.
The prestigious rooms of the Museum are used, at the request of individuals, public bodies and companies for ceremonies, demonstrations and events of a promotional, congress and convivial nature, for which the Management - on request - can provide reception services, technical assistance. (audio and video), entertainment (with shows) and catering (with various high quality external contracted suppliers).

The Museum is a place full of charm, history and stories, able to offer an enchanting setting for any occasion.

(Text source:



Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Photo: web

Information contributions: Ignazio Caloggero Web, 

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