Mondo Niovo

National Cinema Museum

This item has a name in Venetian dialect (meaning “New World”) that comes from the fifth scene of the second act of Carlo Goldoni’s The Boors. It is an optical device that allows viewers to get a sense of depth perception in pictures that are printed on paper, coloured by hand, backlit with a candle and often moved with strings. In contrast with magic lanterns, which projected images externally, viewers had to look inside the box to see the pictures. The benefit of this system was that it could be used outside and during the day. These devices were very widespread in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were taken from town to town for fairs and feasts, just like any other travelling attraction. They were heavily used to reveal what happened during the French Revolution.