The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles (IAMLA) presents a new exhibition: A Real Boy: The Many Lives of Pinocchio, which explores the cultural origins, adaptations, and enduring appeal of one of the most popular characters in children’s literature. Written in 1883 by Italian author Carlo Collodi, The Adventures of Pinocchio has delighted generations and occupies a revered place in the canon of children’s literature. The book has been translated into over 260 languages—a number exceeded only by the Bible. This original exhibition, conceived and produced by the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, explores Collodi’s work and its biblical, literary, and historic influences.
A Real Boy: The Many Lives of Pinocchio also examines Pinocchio’s ascent to the status of cultural icon and his enduring appeal in the postmodern era. Pinocchio’s impact is everlasting:
Hollywood productions remain fascinated with the marionette; his growing nose is a symbol of political deception in the Washington Post Fact Checker Pinocchio Test and on smartphones. Pinocchio inspires musicians from hip hop and jazz to boy bands. He is constantly reinterpreted in an array of merchandise.
Among the exhibited items is a first edition Italian-language version of Le avventure di Pinocchio, one of only six copies of the book that remain in the world. Artwork from Walt Disney’s animated feature film, vintage toys, costumes by Oscar-nominated designer Massimo Cantini Parrini, Pinocchio ephemera, and publications of the book in languages ranging from Polish to Vietnamese are also showcased. The exhibition, designed to engage visitors of all ages, is a journey into the many incarnations of a beloved character who has left an indisputable mark on our collective imagination.
“Pinocchio is a story for all people, all places, and all times,” comments Marianna Gatto, IAMLA director and cofounder. “It is a story about love, moral identity, redemption, and submitting to the fire of transformation in order to self-actualize.”
“The exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to discover and rediscover Pinocchio’s humanity,” said Pier Francesco Bernacchi, president of the Fondazione Nazionale Carlo Collodi. “For over 140 years has inspired Pinocchio and touched readers around the world.”
A Real Boy: The Many Lives of Pinocchio is presented in collaboration and with the support of California Arts Council; Fondazione Collodi; Walt Disney Archives; University of California Los Angeles; Costumi Tirelli S.p.A.; Italian Cultural Institute Los Angeles; Italian Consulate General Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
Programs and Upcoming Events 2023
All events are free and take place at the IAMLA
January 23 – Bob Baker Theater marionette show. Enjoy the greatest show on strings from the city’s oldest children’s theater company. A treat for the entire family!
February 4 Zine-Making Workshop Join artist and author Darrell Fusaro to create a personal self-published version of the most famous marionette story. A fun activity for children ages 7-12
March 2 – Lecture The Image of the Puppet in Italian Theater, Literature and Film by Dr. Federico Pacchioni, Chapman University.
April 4 – Pinocchio Interactive play. Artist Silvia Bottini leads children in music and movement as they explore the roles of puppeteers and puppets
May 6 – Puppet-making workshop. Build your very own puppet with artist Ylenia Mino! Designed for children 4 to 8 years old.
May 20 – Build a marionette! Create a magical world using only paper, colors, and imagination. For children 8-10 years old.