Associazione per la conservazione delle tradizioni popolari


Contact: +39 91 328060
Postal address: Piazzetta Antonio Pasqualino, 5 90133 Palermo
Geographic Coverage of NGO’s expertise: Italy


Year of creation: 1965

Safeguarding measures:

- identification, documentation, research (including inventory-making)
- preservation, protection
- promotion, enhancement
- transmission, (non-)formal education
- revitalization
- Organization of events such as Festival di Morgana (Morgana's Festival)

Main areas of work related to the Convention:

The Association’s managing board and its scientific committee are composed of high-brows mainly operating in the field of folk traditions, in collaboration with the anthropological faculty of Palermo’s University. Since the beginning they have undertaken important researches about local traditions and material culture collecting important testimony and recording, among others, religious festivals, puppet shows, interviews to puppeteers and traditional spectators. These researches led to the Congress “Museografia e folklore” (Museography and folklore), held in Palermo in 1967 and organized by the Association: it was to be the first step for the creation of a new demology and museography centred on a scientific approach in the study of folk traditions. Moreover, the Association prepared the nomination and supported the Opera dei Pupi to obtain the 2001 UNESCO’s declaration as a “Masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of Humanity”. Also, to safeguard the Opera dei pupi, the Association started to collect lots of items used to put on traditional shows creating the first core of the collection, which was to be exhibited at the Museo internazionale delle marionette (International Puppet Museum), founded in 1975: its collections include ab. 4,000 items concerning traditional puppetry, both Italian and foreign as well as contemporary puppet art. Among the numerous activities of the Association: • the organization of the annual Festival di Morgana, a review of traditional theatrical practices organized in collaboration international festivals and institutions. It gives the opportunity to increase the Museum’s collections, promotes the trans-national mobility of cultural operators and the trans-national circulation of artistic and cultural works. It encourages the intercultural dialogue by adopting an interdisciplinary approach and proposing programmes, which have always promoted an exchange between folk and cultivated theatre, art and music in relation to the field of performing arts, heritage and culture. In its latest five editions, it involved more than 500 artists ( • the creation of a stable Opera dei pupi company involving the main traditional puppeteers from all over Sicily. This stable collaboration has allowed the organization of ab. 250 traditional Opera dei pupi shows in the last 2 years, and proved to be impressively effective for the promotion and revival of this local tradition • the management of the Museum’s library “Giuseppe Leggio” which includes ab. 7,000 volumes on anthropology and folk traditions, the Opera dei pupi and puppetry • the cataloguing of the Association library’s patrimony through SBN Unix C/S application of the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico (Central Institute for a Unique Catalogue); the cooperation for the creation of a Libr@rsi website: these activities aim to provide a free, wider and easier fruition of the uploaded on-line catalogue of the Association’s library • the copying, digitalizing and inventorying of the Association’s audio-visual patrimony (including ab. 1,578 items), with particular reference to the bobbins dating back to the Sixties concerning the Opera dei pupi shows and interviews made by Antonio Pasqualino and Marianne Vibaek. • the revision of the Museum’s photo archive which includes white and black photos of the Museum’s collections and the performances • the restoring of the Museum’s oldest puppets and its recent promotion through the project “Adotta un pupo” (“Adopt a puppet” – which involves donors who can choose the puppet to restore and be informed about its state • the restoring of the oldest advertising posters and backcloths of the Opera dei pupi • the organization of seminars in collaboration with prestigious national/international institutions: eg. “Art and Anthropology”, (in Palermo), in collaboration with Paris “Musée du Quay Branly”; seminars centred on epic stories in the oral and written traditions such as those organized on the occasion of Morgana’s Festival (Palermo and other Sicilian towns) or “Storytelling”, a festival (in various Sicilian towns), in collaboration with the Sicilian Museum Casa museo Antonino Uccello, which was centred on the oral transmission of knowledge and the various expressive codes of traditional storytellers; the “Convivio musicale. Incontri con l’arte e la musica tradizionale” (The Musical Feast. Meetings with art and traditional music), held in various Sicilian towns and in collaboration with CIDIM (Italian National Committee for Music), which included performances of local story-singers concerning some famous stories of the poetico-musical repertoire. Performed according to the traditional executive techniques and staging codes; cunti, which are serialized stories publicly related by wandering storytellers and concerning chivalric epics stemmed from the ancient French Chansons de geste; concerts of folk songs; seminars about the Opera dei pupi and Unesco masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity held in Palermo.


After the crisis of Sicilian traditional puppetry, the Association was established and in 1975 it founded, and still manages, the ethno-anthropological Museo internazionale delle marionette Antonio Pasqualino (Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum), which houses ab. 4.000 items used in traditional puppetry from different countries. It aims to safeguard and revitalize puppet traditions and the related craftsmanship, as well as local practices and productions in their different territorial, artistic and traditional expressions so as to save and expand the rich immaterial heritage connected to Sicilian folk traditions and to encourage the research focusing on their relation with their original context. It keeps a comparative attitude by relating Sicilian puppetry to other countries’ traditions. This activity takes place by means of collecting; research; promotion; networking and cooperation; educational, didactic and theatrical activities, eg. Festival di Morgana (that promotes the cultural/professional exchange between Sicilian and foreign puppeteers), as follows: -the socio-anthropological researches about traditional puppetry and practices; -the organization and management of centres for multi-disciplinary documentary research; the foundation of libraries, film archives, and multimedia application centres focusing on identification, documentation and research (including inventorying) -the realization of innovation projects by means of grants, research contracts and conventions; -the organization of cultural events in the fields of literature, theatre and art involving local and foreign institutions -the participation in national/international events to preserve, continue and expand Sicilian traditional practices in Italy and abroad; -the publishing activity, to popularize the subjects connected to traditional puppetry and practices; -the creation of networks including other institutions operating with the same aim and in the same field all over the world -the promotion and realization of programs for the collaboration with public/private institutions, national and international, aiming to operate in the research field and promote the exchange of professionals with other Italian and foreign certified institutes; -the counselling service to help the Regional government adopt the right strategies for the preservation/promotion of traditional practices, expand its collection about material/immaterial culture; the conservation and permanent exhibition of some of its ethno-anthropological collections; -the organization of educational/didactic projects and activities in cooperation with private/public institutions concerning the Museum’s patrimony, local and foreign traditions.


Since its foundation, the Association has cooperated with local puppeteers and craftsmen to help them survive the deep crisis, which since 1950s threatened the existence of this local tradition. This stable collaboration aims to increase their activity and expectations within a constant exchange and dialogue, which are at the basis of the important research activity carried on by the founding members of the Association. Moreover, their continuous presence at the Museum proved to be precious for the revision of the Museum’s inventories, which include important details about the items of its collections (origin, creator, character, etc.). The result of such relation and researches led to obtain the UNESCO’s declaration of the Opera dei pupi as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. In addition, in order to revive, promote and popularize it, since the opening of the Museum, the Association organized an annual review of the Opera dei pupi and during the year it still schedules Sicilian puppet shows by inviting companies from all over Sicily and involving them in other didactic activities. Not only does the Association mediates in the relationship between puppeteers and national and international spectators and institutions, but it also creates contacts and cooperation with craftsmen, puppeteers and artists from other countries promoting the cultural and professional exchange between Sicilian traditional artists and foreigners operating in the same field. In fact, during the annual Festival di Morgana, the Association often invites companies from abroad, which perform or hold workshops in Palermo, and it has also promoted the production of innovative performances mixing traditional practices (ex. Chinese Opera and Sicilian Opera dei pupi), or various forms of art (contemporary dance, paintings and music): the result was the creation of artistic works which plays with the Opera dei pupi traditional codes which gave Sicilian artists the possibility to become more aware about their activity and to expand the range of their experience in the puppet field. Finally, this exchange has helped the development of a more general comparative study of traditional theatrical practices.