Precinema Museum in Padova

Today, going to the cinema is a leisure activity for adults and children alike. But have you ever wondered what cinemas were like… before cinemas existed? Visit the Museo del Precinema in Padova and discover the answers to all your questions!

Housed in the 15th century Palazzo Angeli in Padova’s Prato della Valle, the Museo del Precinema displays the private collection of director Laura Minici Zotti: projection glasses, magic lanterns, hand paintings of the 18th and 19th century, optical games, antique cameras and other instruments that trace the history of the pre-cinema era.

Come and discover one of Padua’s most original museums and enjoy a journey in time across the fascinating world of visual reproduction from the 18th century up to the birth of modern cinema.

On this page you will find all the information you need in order to plan your perfect visit of the Museo del Precinema, including conveniently purchasing your ticket online!


  • Choose the date of your visit and number of tickets. Please remember that the date is not fixed: if you need to, you can use your ticket on a date of your choosing, as long as it is included in the opening times of Museum of Precinema opening times. 
  • Enter your personal information verifying its accuracy. Once payment is made, the booking cannot be changed, cancelled or reimbursed. 
  • Please pay by credit card. 
  • The entry voucher can be downloaded on the booking confirmation page and it will also be sent to you via email. Please check your email address is valid
  • The voucher is the only valid document and must be presented both in printed and electronic format on mobile devices. Entry will be denied to those without a voucher.
  • Remember to read important info
Important info Important info

Other info

The voucher you will receive upon booking online must be exhibited at the ticket office of Padua’s Museum of Precinema, either in paper or electronic format, in order for it to be converted into an admission ticket.

The date you enter at the time of booking is not-fixed: this is an open-dated ticket, so you can use it on a different date to the one indicated on the voucher, as long as it is within the opening times of the Museum of Precinema.

COVID-19: visitors must wear a face mask and disinfect their hands and keep a distance of at least 1 meter between people.



Opening days: daily except Tuesday

Opening hours: from 10.00 to 16.00 (last entrance at 15.00)

Closures: January 1st, Easter Sunday, April 25th, May 1st, December 24th, 25th, 26th and 31st.



Adult: € 6,00

* Concession: € 4,00 (for visitors under 18 years of age, with impaired mobility, over 65, PadovaCard, TouringClub, FAI, Carta giovani, Assointesa, Studiare a Padova CARD).

* Free: visitors under the age of 5, Icom, TouringClub Junior



Where to deposit bags and objects: large bags, backpacks, umbrellas and any other objects that the staff deems unsuitable to be introduced in the exhibition must be left in the designated areas. The cloakroom is free.

Prohibited objects: carrying glass objects, blunt objects, weapons of any type, spray cans and other objects deemed dangerous and which may cause damage to objects and people into the exhibition is forbidden

Smoking: smoking is prohibited inside the museum, electronic cigarettes included

Pets: pets are not allowed, except small animals if carried in visitors’ arms or bag and guide dogs for the blind. Bringing animals into the exhibition is exclusively the responsibility of the owners, who take full responsibility for any damage caused.

Food and drinks: for hygiene reasons and for the safety of the works and spaces, it is not possible to eat or drink inside the exhibition halls.

Photos/videos: photographs can be taken, but strictly without flash. It is possible to obtain digital images or perform professional photo shoots, film and television shootings by submitting a specific authorization request.

Mobile phones and other mobile devices: in the exhibition rooms, please silence mobile phones and other mobile devices, and their use must be limited to emergencies.

Staff: the surveillance staff is available to visitors for general indications on the exhibited collection and is also responsible for the safety of the works and the smooth running of the visit: the indications and instructions of the surveillance personnel must therefore be carefully followed.

Enjoyment of the works: visitors must observe the objects exposed from a distance, without approaching them with objects that could damage the works on display. With the help of a staff member you can interact with some works to see how they work.


Prato della Valle 1/A
Padova – Palazzo Angeli


The Museum of Precinema in Padua is a one-of-a-kind museum that ranks as one of the most original in Italy; founded in 1998 by Laura Minici Zotti, this wonderful Wunderkammer will introduce you to the history of cinema and allow you to discover that wonderful world made of the ‘magic lanterns’ and other special tools that led to the invention of modern cinema.

But who was Laura Minici Zotti? A painter... at least until when, rummaging through the abandoned boxes in the attic of her Venetian home, she came across a magic lantern. This marvelous and unknown instrument, capable of projecting images on small glass panes inserted inside it, ignited a true passion, which would lead her to travel the world as a collector and expert lanternist. And it is to convey to others this great passion that she decided to found the Museum of Precinema, an exhibition that will allow you to admire her personal collection and tiptoe into her world...

Visiting this museum means embarking on a marvelous journey through the history of cinema which, starting from the Lumière Brothers' invention of the cinema in 1895 - and it is from that moment onwards that it is possible to speak of real cinema - will take you on a journey through centuries. The two cornerstones of the exhibition remain the history of visual machines, but above all popular entertainment and the forms of optical spectacles that gradually led to the invention of Cinema. And the ancient Palazzo Angeli in Padua, in Prato della Valle, is the perfect location to house instruments, projection glasses, original hand-painted paintings from the 18th and 19th centuries and other precious testimonies.

The exhibition includes a section dedicated to the 'MONDO NUOVO', an instrument of popular entertainment that spread in the 18th century and allowed the projection of screenings, a collection of tools and visual games printed on paper and hand colored, backlit by a candle.

On display there are also some games that enchanted children in the Victorian era such as the THAUMATROPE (an object made of a disk tied to two threads: by pulling them, the disk rotates quickly and, due to the principle of persistence of vision, the drawings depicted on the two sides of the disk appear simultaneously) and more ingenious devices such as the PHENAKISTICOPE (a device composed of two disks, one with figures and the other with slots that, thanks to a simultaneous movement, give the illusion of a moving image).

The exhibition continues with an area dedicated to PHOTOGRAPHY, where you can see the images included in the megalethoscope, the instrument created by Carlo Ponti in 1864 to view photographs. It then continues with a section dedicated to the STEREOSCOPES containing vintage stereoscopes, column or portable ones, equipped with seemingly three-dimensional photos.

Much exhibition space will be dedicated to the Museum of Precinema, the MAGIC LANTERN, built in the mid-1600s. The forefather of the cinema projector, it is a box with painted glass instead of the lens and a candle as a light source that, thanks to its projections of fantastic and real images on a special screen or on a white wall, excited spectators who were sat inside a dark room. With the passage of time the instrument was perfected and the images, initially fixed, started to move thanks to the use of several sheets of glass that would slide on each other. Cinematography was born!

By visiting the museum in Prato della Valle you can admire different models of magic lanterns, some very valuable ones such the triple lantern of J.H. Steward and the 'Pettibone' lantern made in America. Inside a bulletin board there are also some cute little toy lanterns in a painted tin together with the colorful Lanterne Salon made in France.

The Minici Zotti collection gathers, alongside the projection equipment, thousands of glass windows dating back to the mid-18th and early 20th century. These are pieces of stained glass, which move and produce fun animations, engravings on glass and hand-colored photographs.

Finally, you can see some ancient MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, a JAVANESE THEATRE OF SHADOWS of the late 19th century and the reconstruction of a DARK ROOM.

© Insidecom Tour Operator
(authorization no. 62027 dated 09/07/12 with determination no. 2052/2012)