Hidden in the inner streets of the sunny Santos area, next to the Madragoa neighborhood, lies an interesting museum… full of oddities and expressive faces! It’s the Museu da Marioneta! The number one place to see and learn all about puppets, marionettes and stop-motion animation!
This relatively small yet fascinating museum lies in the heart of Santos, as previously mentioned, and is a wonderful visit for a relative low price (especially for students and young children).
Within the Museu da Marioneta you can find a varied and odd collection of puppets used for a myriad of means, and from a plethora of eras and places from around the world! Starting with Asian celebratory puppets and shadow theaters, moving through African ritualistic masks and classic European marionette shows and ending with actual sets and rigs from modern stop-motion productions, mainly made in Portugal!
As an animator I profoundly enjoy this museum. It shows clearly how we like to express ourselves through art and other means beyond just ourselves and our own bodies, and how an object can mean so much and be so expressive. Though puppets can be… over-expressive sometimes, to be honest! And it’s not uncommon to find a creepy marionette or two! But the immersion on the different dimensions and cultures that dedicate themselves to crafting such elaborate pieces overshadows any strangeness that might come with it.
And is by doing this that we truly enjoy culture. And culture, this museum has in spades!
The museum as an open interior area for screenings and shows (mostly for a younger audience) and it also offers a smaller room for great periodic exhibitions related with its theme. And some big names can be associated with this! I’ve recently went there and saw their exhibition, with whole sets and puppets, about the great animation studio Aardman (who’ve brought you modern classics a like Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run or Shaun the Sheep). So, if you’re staying in Lisbon during March and April, I strongly advise you to give this exhibition a look, as well as the whole museum! And also the animation festival, happening simultaneously, that made this particular exhibition possible, MONSTRA, but I’ll tell you more on that later!
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