The Mole Antonelliana is a magnificent symbol of Turin, built-in 1889, and houses the tallest museum in the world. The National Museum of Cinema is unique, with its displays organized on several levels, including a ramp that winds around the inside of the building and a movie theater on the ground floor. For the movie buffs, this museum has a fantastic amount of history from the birth of cinema to the high tech movies with all the special effects. Here is everything you need to know about the National Museum of Cinema at the Mole Antonelliana.
You might find yourself waiting in line outside the building on busy days. Be forewarned; there is no shade on the sidewalk by the building. Bring a fan and water on warm days. The museum’s open hours are from Wednesday through Monday at 9 a.m.- 8 p.m., on Saturdays, it is open until 11 p.m. The museum is closed on Tuesdays. The entrance fee is £11, and it is an extra £8 for the Panoramic lift. Or you can get a combined ticket for £15. After you purchase your ticket, head through the gift shop to the museum.
“Let the images shine
on your white wall!
And even when it is
only a passing illusion,
yet it makes us happy when,
like ingenuous little children,
we stand there before it entranced.”
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther, 1774
If you love photography as much as I do, this part of the museum is fascinating. There are over 150,000 items collected from the 18th and 19th centuries. The collection fills eight rooms of items that you can interact with, touch, and try out how these earlier machines worked. Before there were movies, the research, science, and technology were put to practice to try and reproduce what we saw in life. The machines that they created were obscuras, peepshows, magic lanterns, and Kinetoscopes. Which all led to animating images that were the pre-curser to moving pictures.
Projected shadows of moving silhouettes lit from behind, also called shadow play is entertaining to learn how it started and see how it progressed. Shadow Play is probably the oldest form of cinema as its origins go back to Asia and the Middle East, way before it showed up in Europe. The techniques the artists used were translucent figures or colored leather silhouettes for shadows in the orient to opaque and black silhouettes. These shadow puppets even led the way for shadows created by your hand. I think we can remember all doing this as children.
The collection dedicated to the history of photography showcases how photography is the link between the archaeology of cinema to cinema. I love seeing groups of old cameras and seeing the history of photography and cameras evolve. This part of the collection reminds me of the Photo Antiquities Museum in Pittsburgh. The display illustrates how the photography went from the landscapes to the front line military to everyday life.
Part of the museum’s displays is along the ramp that winds up and around the inside of the building. This exhibit has interactive displays and movie clips. My favorite is the trailers of the Marvel movies, and the highlight is the Stan Lee cameo appearances computer display. You can play every cameo he did in the Marvel films. This is an excelent tribute to Stan Lee. The funniest is when Stan Lee drops off the package to the Avengers and asks for Tony Stank!
The Temple Hall, surrounded by displays, is the heart of the museum. You can sit down and relax on the lounge chairs and watch a compilation of films projected on huge screens. One screen shows the great silent films filmed in Turin. The other screen shows clips from the best dance sequences from the history of Italian cinema. The displays around the Temple Hall are fascinating and not what you would expect. There are ones on the history of Animation, Cinema of the Absurd, Horror and Fantasy, Mirrors, Westerns, Musicals, Science Fiction, Experimental Cinema, Love and Death, and 3D movies. The entrances to these exhibits are designed so perfectly that you can know what you are going to see even before you walk into the rooms.
The Cinema Machine section of the museum is dedicated to the phases of movie making, such as the production, directing, screenwriting, costumes, the actors, and sets. Walking through this part, you can almost feel like you are stepping right into the movies as the sets are built with props, photographs, and sets of the film. They even play clips from the films based on the genre you are walking through. The Cinema Machine intends to show you how the movies are made by using lighting, editing, sound, storyboards, and special effects.
The Panoramic Lift takes you up 85 meters within 59-seconds to see the most beautiful view of Turin. You can get a 360-degree view of the city, the mountains, and rivers. The coolest thing is that the elevator is entirely made of glass. You can see everything as you are taken up through the ceiling in the middle of the Temple Hall.
The views from the Panoramic Terrace of the Mole Antonelliana are breathtaking, especially on a warm sunny day. Seeing all the Italian terracotta roofs with pockets of green trees within them is lovely. You can see the mountains near Turin with the Basilica of Superga at the top. And you can see the arched Isabella Bridge in the distance. I could even see the building where my Airbnb was on the other side of Dora Riparia.
If you love going to the movies and watching movies as much as I do, then you will love this museum. You can easily spend a half-day going through all the exhibits. There is that much stuff here to see! Kids will love it as well because of all the interactive displays. And if you want to take a rest, plop down in one of the chairs while the rest of your family explores this massive museum. The Mole Antonelliana has everything a film buff would want to know how movies are made and how they came to be. Now it is time to get back to the movies…
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