23 November 2011
Lisbon's best kept puppetry secret
This morning I visited the 'Museu da Marioneta' (puppetry museum) in Lisbon, where I was taken on a guided tour by its delightful director, Maria Jose Machado Santos. The museum, founded in 1987 by Puppet Company of S. Lourenço, is based in an ancient convent near the centre of Lisbon. Museu da Marioneta is dedicated to the interpretation and dissemination of the history of puppetry and features puppets from around the world, while at the same time allowing a special focus on Portuguese puppetry.
Although the museum has a wonderful collection of everything from traditional Javanese Wayang Golek and Kulit through to a special section of modern Portuguese puppets and animation, I was also invited into the vault, in the secret underbelly of the museum, to view it's hidden treasures. These included some rare artifacts from every continent and a massive collection of Asian puppets. Unfortunately the space in this beautiful museum is limited, so most of it's unique collection go unseen by the public in the vault. The only way for this to change is expansion, but with the uncertain European financial climate, it's going to be a long time before I can see this happening. But it's certainly well worth a visit to anyone passing through Lisbon. In fact if you get hold of the director, maybe you'll be fortunate enough to get your own guided tour like I had today. If you can't get there, you can still experience a virtual tour of their international puppetry collection here!