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Official Web Site: Museo del Cinema di Torino
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Italian cinema emerged shortly after the revolutionary invention by the Lumière brothers. The first Italian screening, which took place on March 13, 1896 in Rome, marked the beginning of this new art form. Turin, in particular, swiftly became one of the most prolific centers of film production. In 1912, a remarkable 569 films were produced in Turin, while Milan and Rome contributed 120 and 420 films, respectively. It’s no surprise that the Museum of Cinema, one of the world’s most significant in its genre, is located right in the Piedmontese capital.

The idea of creating a museum dedicated to cinematography was championed by Maria Adriana Prolo, a Piedmontese scholar of history and cinema, in 1941. With valuable assistance from director Giovanni Pastrone, known for directing the Italian silent epic film “Cabiria”, the museum secured its initial funding for acquiring documents and artifacts. Initially, these objects were stored in a room within the Mole Antonelliana, generously provided by the city of Turin.

The history of Cinema Museum

After World War II, in 1946, the museum organized its first exhibition in the underground gallery of via Roma, which garnered significant interest. The Mole Antonelliana was initially identified as the ideal location for a permanent exhibition, but the project faced setbacks due to a tornado in 1953, which severely damaged the structure.

Cinema Museum
Cinema Museum

The arrival of Frenchman Henri Langlois, founder of the Musée du Cinéma in Paris, revitalized the project. In 1953, the National Museum of Cinema Association was officially established, with Maria Prolo as its president. Subsequently, the museum found a permanent exhibition space at Palazzo Chiablese, and Maria Prolo assumed lifelong directorship in 1956. On September 27, 1958, the museum was inaugurated on the ground floor of Palazzo Chiablese, featuring a projection room, a film library, and a library on the upper floor. In 1960, the museum received official recognition from the State.

Unfortunately, due to the devastating Statuto cinema fire in 1983, the museum was temporarily closed for safety reasons. The exhibits were relocated, some to the Cinema Massimo on via Verdi, which became the temporary venue, and others to the Rai Production Center.

The definitive turning point occurred in the 1990s. In 1991, Maria Prolo passed away, and the following year, the museum became a foundation named in her honor. The project to establish a permanent exhibition inside the Mole Antonelliana was revived, this time with success. In 1995, the collection was moved and organized by Swiss set designer Francois Confino. Current headquarters were inaugurated in July 2000.

Cinema Museum
Cinema Museum – Marilyn Monroe’s shoes

The collection

The National Museum of Cinema houses an extensive collection of over 2.2 million works, divided as follows:

  • 1,550,000 photographs
  • 540,000 posters and advertising materials
  • 7,600 magazines
  • 30,000 films on celluloid
  • 48,000 films on other media
  • 61,500 books
  • 16,500 archival documents and files
  • 12,000 devices, art objects, and prints related to cinema archaeology
  • 9,500 pieces of equipment
  • 9,000 cinema memorabilia items
  • 4,700 records

This collection is considered one of the most valuable in the world, encompassing film, archival documents, photography, devices, and art objects related to cinema.

Cinema Museum – Star Wars masks

The categories of Cinema Museum

The exhibition categories within the museum include:

  • Cinema Archaeology: This section houses the earliest animation tools, such as magic lanterns, phenakistiscopes, optical boxes, and more.
  • Photography Collection: Here, the history of photography unfolds through the works of prominent Italian photographers, including Secondo Pia, Italo Bertoglio, Maggiorino Gramaglia, Domenico Riccardo Peretti Griva, and Vittorio Zumaglino. Many photographs were taken on film sets.
  • Posters and Advertising Materials: A diverse collection of posters and advertisements created by renowned European and Hollywood cinema illustrators.
  • Cinema Memorabilia: This section features drafts, costumes, and props, such as Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hat, Lawrence of Arabia’s costume, Marilyn Monroe’s shoes and jewelry, and more.
  • Equipment Collection: A compilation of cinema and photography equipment spanning various eras, including cameras, projectors, moviolas, cameras, phonographs, and other production tools.
  • Film Library: Over 30,000 films and reels, including a substantial collection of nitrate-based films and silent cinema. The museum also collaborates with other Italian and foreign film archives for the restoration of ancient films.
  • Historical Archive: Historical documents related to cinematographic activities, such as contracts, notes, drawings, letterheads, and more.
  • Library: A collection of over 54,000 works, including magazines, monographs, and periodicals dedicated to cinema.
  • Video Library: A wide selection of films and movies available for consultation by appointment.
  • Sound Library: Various genre records related to the world of cinematography, such as soundtracks or actors performing as singers. Many have been restored and digitized and can be listened to online.

Not everything is showed

Unfortunately, many artifacts are stored in vaults both for exhibition space constraints and security reasons. Among these, you can find Marilyn Monroe’s beauty case, Excalibur’s sword, the cloak worn by Marcello Mastroianni in “Henry IV,” the guns used in “Pulp Fiction,” the Flintstones’ bottles and glasses, and even the voodoo doll and monkey head featured in an Indiana Jones film.

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