Museum of Precinema

Minici Zotti Collection

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    Palazzo Angeli
    Prato della Valle 1/A
    35123 Padua (PD)

    Telephone: 049/8763838
    Email: info@minicizotti.it

    – from Monday to Sunday (closed on Tuesdays)
    – from 10pm to 4pm (last admission recommended before 3:15pm)

“All life had appeared to him [Prince Andreij Bolkònsckij] like magic lantern images, as if regarded at great length through a glass slide and illuminated with artificial light. Now suddenly, without glass, he saw those poorly depicted and badly composed pictures in the clear light of day. <<Yes, yes, here they are, those fake images that used to move me, enrapture and torment me>>, he said to himself, letting the principal images of the magic lantern of his life run through his mind…”

from War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

The Museum

The Museum of Precinema in Padua is unique, not only amongst Italian museums but throughout the world. Founded by Laura Minici Zotti in 1998 in collaboration with the Comune di Padova and Department of Culture and Tourism with the consultation of the Arch. Gianfranco Martinoni. Now the director of the museum is Carlo Alberto Zotti Minici, the son of the founder, professor at the University of Padua (History of cinema, History and technique of photography). This “Cabinet of Wonders” is an interesting and unusual project that combines public and private interest.

In order to understand the quest for knowledge that led to the birth and worldwide diffusion the “visionary man”, and later to the creation of cinema, we must begin with the invention of projected motion pictures by the Lumière brothers and work backwards through the centuries. As we go back in time, we focus our attention on the history of machines for vision, as well as on another history – one that is more extensive and more difficult to define. This other history is of popular entertainment and optical spectacles, which, over the centuries, finally led to the invention of what we call the Cinematograph.

                                Prato della Valle. Fotografia di Antonio Cesaro ©

The Museum of Precinema is based in the monumental Palazzo Angeli, a 15th Century building in Prato della Valle, in the centre of the historic city of Padua. This beautiful building is certainly the most appropriate place in which to preserve and display the optical instruments and original hand-painted magic lantern slides, which date back to the 18th and 19th Centuries. At the Museum of Precinema you can admire optical views, the “mondo niovo” (a peepshow), a collection of optical instruments and toys. They all testify in a manifold way the need felt in the 19th Century, and particularly the Victorian Age, to escape from the monotony of the fixed and one-dimensional image. Continue reading “The Museum”

Exhibitions & Events

Absolutely Black: Silhouettes and Shadow Theatres

In collaboration with the Comune di Padova with contribution and sponsorship from the Region of Venice with sponsorship by the Minister of Welfare and Cultural Activities Silhouettes seat by J.K. Lavater, reproduction   The Minici Zotti Collection of Padua, constantly researching the Archaeology of Cinema, has collected a vast repertoire of silhouettes. In the 18th …


Magic Lantern Slide, photo coloured by hand, England c.1890

Since 1975, Laura Minici Zotti, founder of the Museum and also skilled “lanternist”, has spread the knowledge of Precinema throughout the world giving her magic lantern shows. She uses a bi-unial magic lantern of J. H. Steward of 1880 with 19th Century glass slides (8 x 8cm), animated by little mechanisms.

In December 2007, Laura Minici Zotti was awarded the Seal of the City of Padua, and in 2008 she received the prestigious international Jean Mitry prize at the Silent Film Festival of Pordenone for her constant cultural service and dissemination of the knowledge of Precinema. In 2010 she recived the Premio Donna Eccelente for culture and the Premio Vittorio De Sica from the hands of the President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano. Continue reading “Shows”

Visit the Museum

The Museum of PrecinemaThe Minici Zotti Collection is situated in Prato della Valle 1/A in Padua on the top floor of the Palazzo Angeli. To enter, ring the doorbell and go upstairs to the third floor. You will see shadowy silhouettes of people lining the stairwell as you go up towards the Collection. There is an elevator, but as the Palazzo Angeli dates from the end of the 16th Century the building can cause some mobility obstacles. If you have reduced mobility and require assistance please contact the Museum.


The museum will be closed from 1st to 31st August.

10:00AM – 4:00PM (to 2:00AM in AUGUST, last admission recommended before 15:15) 
Closing days: TUESDAY, January 1, Easter, April 25, May 1, Dicember 24,25,26 and 31

Full: € 6,00
Reduced: € 4,00 (students, under 18, over 65, Padova Card, FAI, Touring Club, tourist guides
Free: under 6, ICOM, MIBACT, journalists, disabled visitors (assistant included)

Small groups (4-10 people) : €10, reduced €8 (per person)
Large groups (10-25 people): €8, reduced 6€ (per person)
Guided tours must be booked by writing an email to info@minicizotti.it or by calling 0498763838

Reservation is obligatory for groups, even if a guided tour is not required.

The Museum of Precinema is a special place that allows you to be hands-on with the exhibits, helping you to understand the origins of the visual language that led to the birth of Cinema. Fundamentally, it is an educational mediator, which, with the collaboration of the teacher, means that students are active participators rather than passive spectators. The Museum adjusts to serve to the demands of each individual class.
Unfortunately, the museum does not have enough available space for workshops; therefore a publication entitled “The Visual Language Exercise Book” has been created for school groups. The publication is complementary and will be given  to the teacher during the guided tour of the museum.

Magic Lantern Slide by T. Clare, used at the Royal Polytechnic Institution. Hand painted, England 1858