German museum of puppet theatre, founded in 1940 by the city of Munich. Its international collection has about thirteen thousand figures and represents the entire field of puppetry arts.
The Puppentheatermuseum is part of the Münchner Stadtmuseum (Munich City Museum). Following the 1939 abandoned project of a planned exhibition on the puppet theatre in Southern Germany called “Das süddeutsche Puppenspiel”, the city of Munich in 1940 founded a museum of puppet theatre instead and entrusted the direction to Ludwig Krafft (1901-1977). Since then the museum has collected and preserved objects representing all aspects of figure theatre. The earliest pieces date from the 1800s. The extensive collection includes hand (glove puppets) and rod puppets, string puppets (marionettes), and shadow puppets, Theatrum Mundi, Laterna magica, mechanical figures as well as paper theatres (see Toy Theatre). Donations and new acquisitions enrich the collection on a regular basis. The museum’s priority is to showcase traditional and artistic puppet and figure theatre in Germany. In addition, it has a very rich fund of objects from other European countries, as well as from Asia and Africa. The stock of automata and mechanically manipulated figures is another highlight of the museum.
Since 1980, the museum has expanded its activities to the research of fairground puppetry (see Fairs) and festivals including circus and variety shows from the 19th century to the present day. The museum has also become the centre for research of popular and folk entertainment. Researchers have access to a specialized library, archives and a collection of graphic works and photographs. Specific topics are the subject in special exhibitions such as “Fred Schneckenburgers Puppencabaret” (Fred Schneckenburger’s Puppet [lier]Cabaret, 1991), “Chinesisches Lampenschattentheater” (Chinese Shadow Lamp Theatre, 1997) and “Jahrmarkts- und Varietéattraktionen der Schaustellerdynastie Schichtl” (Fair and Variety Theatre Attractions of the Fairground Family Dynasty Schichtl, 1990). In collaboration with the Gesellschaft zur Förderung des Puppenspiels e.V., München (Association for the Advancement of Puppet Theatre, Munich), the museum presents the entire spectrum of contemporary puppet and figure theatre through a series of guest performances and a biannual international figure theatre festival.
- Till, Wolfgang. Puppentheater im Münchner Stadtmuseum. Bilder. Figuren. Dokumente [Puppet Theatre Museum in the Munich City Museum. Photographs, Puppets, Documents]. München, 1986.