The National Cinema Museum holds one of the most important collections of magic
lantern glass slides in the world: over 8,000 artefacts – both still and
animated – which demonstrate the visual themes used in illuminated projections
from the 1700s up until the first decades of the 20th century.
The collection was founded in 1942, when Maria Adriana Prolo bought a few magic
lanterns, complete with a series of glass slides, at a flea market in Turin.
This simple collection was systematically enlarged over the years, proof of how
fond the museum’s founder was of cinema archaeology. After her death, the
collection was significantly expanded with items from the UK, thanks to the
acquisition of the collection owned by two cinema pioneers: the Englishmen John
and William Barnes.
Thanks to an extensive cataloguing and digital imaging project funded by Regione
Piemonte, the regional government of Piedmont, we are publishing a first
selection of 2,000 glass slides. They have been grouped thematically and can be
viewed using several login keywords.