Do you love cinema? Then feed your passion for the big screen and book a visit to one of the 5 best cinema museums in Italy: memorabilia, history and lots of fun.
Cinema is not just Hollywood: many countries have contributed to the development of the motion pictures, making it a global, multi-billion dollar industry.
Italy helped shaping the cinema industry with its iconic characters, visionary directors and unique locations.
From Rome to Turin, you will find cinema museums suitable for all ages and tastes, with interactive installations investigating the roots of the cinema industry and its future.
What are you waiting for? Discover the 5 best cinema museums in Italy!
5. Museum of Precinema in Padova
Have you ever wondered how was the cinema before the invention of the film?
The elegant Museum of Precinema in Padova answer this question, displaying one of the most beautiful collections of magic lanterns in the world.
Magic lanterns are an early type of image projector of painted images on glass: the ancestors of modern cartoons and 3D animations. They were the typical entertainment of the Victorian age.
The museum hosts the collection of the founder Laura Minici Zotti, who accidentally found a magic lantern in her attic and immediately fell in love with it. She therefore decided to create the museum in 1998, displaying it in the ancient Palazzo Angeli, in the heart of Padova.
This small but prestigious museum tells the history of cinema before the advent of the film projector. Roaming around the rooms you can see the original 18th century hand-painted glasses, different types of antique lanterns and also tools for optical games.
We especially love the ancient Javanese shadow theatre and the reproduction of a camera obscura used by Canaletto.
Visitors are transported into an evocative journey between reality and illusion, in a museum dedicated to those who want to discover the ancient roots of cinema.
The cost of the ticket is €6. The full visit takes around 90 minutes. If you plan to stay in town, check out our guide of Padova.
4. FantaCinema in Genova
Sci-fi lovers, read these words!
The FantaCinema exhibition is housed in an old warehouse in the port of Genoa, recently renovated by the architect Renzo Piano.
Dedicated to sci-fi lovers, the exhibition consists of hundreds of cinema items that make cinephiles happy: impressive life-size statues, original posters, action figures and much more.
Fantacinema is not just a casual collection of memorabilia, there’s a bit of cinema history as well. About the costumes, often gifted by movie companies, mention of honour for the one used in Alien and the original costume of Darth Vader from Star Wars.
Masterpieces like King Kong, Dracula, Terminator and Lord of the Rings are all present in the galleries (as you can see in the photo here above shared by FantaCinema).
The exhibition is suitable for all ages and is quite engaging and fun to watch.The cost of the ticket is only € 5, (free for kids under 12 years) and in about an hour you can visit the whole museum.
Need to know what to see when you are in town? Check our romantic guide of Genova!
3. Interactive Cinema Museum in Milan
The Interactive Cinema Museum of Milan, called MIC, is a small but original museum.
The museum makes excellent use of technology so visitors are at the center of the experience, using tablets to interact with the museum's devices and have fun creating posters, dubbing scenes and "experiencing" the optical effects.
AR smart glasses, touchscreens, sound effects and quizzes for true cinephiles make the experience very engaging.
The real gem of the museum is in its basement, where movie lovers can explore the Film Archive, kept at a stable temperature of 10° and at 50% of humidity for preservation purposes (so bring a jacket !). Thanks to the Epson Moverio BT-350 glasses for augmented reality, you can discover hidden objects and watch clips showing Milan's evolution from last century to the 1960s.
The museum is located near the Bicocca metro station in Milan, in the building that was once the local tobacco factory: the full ticket costs € 7.50 and the recommended visit time is 90 minutes, including a visit to the Archive.
2. Museo Italiano Audiovisivo e Cinema + Cinecittà si Mostra in Rome
Cinecittà is the beating heart of Italian cinema.
The studios have not one but two museums in a single structure: the MIAC (Italian Audiovisual and Cinema Museum) and “Cinecittà si Mostra”.
Best thing is that the two projects are complementary: “Cinecittà si Mostra” is about the history of Cinecittà Studios, a wild ride from the 1930s to the present day allowing us to see various memorabilia and to visit the film sets.
On the other side, MIAC is an immersive museum with 12 rooms dedicated to audiovisual material in general, with music and screenings of famous scenes from Italian movies.
The approach is different, but the experience is rewarding in both cases.
MIAC offers an all-round multimedia experience mixing up cinema, digital culture and video games, while the visit to “Cinecittà si Mostra” is more physical. Visitors can explore the studios and stroll around famous permanent sets, such as the one for Ancient Rome, the submarine used for "U-571" or the set for Jerusalem of "The young Messiah". If you are into the dolce vita, don’t miss the room dedicated to Federico Fellini.
Our favourite sections were the one dedicated to Neorealism and the last one for Sergio Leone, inspired by his masterpiece "Once Upon a Time in America", an absolute must-see for his fans.
The museums are close to the Cinecittà metro station, and can be visited together in around 3 hours, paying a combined ticket of €20.
1. National Cinema Museum in Turin
The National Cinema Museum is the most visited museum in Turin and the undisputed king of cinema exhibitions in Italy.
The museum is unique in the world for its scientific approach in narrating the history of cinema, mixing up light effects, music and costumes, creating an interactive experience.
The collection is housed in the iconic setting of the Mole Antonelliana; the visitors can explore it by walking a helical ramp unfolding upwards towards the top.
The centre of the museum is the Temple Hall, dominated by the clock used in “Metropolis” and the statue of the god Moloch (from “Cabiria”, a blockbuster of silent cinema). We especially loved the fascinating section dedicated to movie posters and advertising material. If you are curious to know how hard it is to make a movie… check out the area explaining in detail all the manufacturing secrets of the movie industry.
The memorabilia on display melts the heart of every cinema lover: the costume used in “Alien”, the robe from “Lawrence of Arabia” or Bela Lugosi’s coffin in “Dracula''. You’ll surely find something from your favourite movie.
Finally, take the panoramic lift in the cabin with transparent glass walls (a thrilling one-minute ride) to reach the panoramic terrace and enjoy the scenic view of Turin from the top.
We recommend purchasing the combined ticket for accessing both the museum and the lift, for a total of €15. Suitable to both adults and children, the recommend visit time is 3 hours.
After exploring the museum, stretch your legs and enjoy a walk in Turin following our favourite itinerary.