Puppet collections

The Institute possesses a wide variety of puppets. These collections have been built up and expanded over the years through purchases (offers made by individuals or at auction sales), donations or legacies and the conservation of puppets created at ESNAM.
They are divided into 4 distinct collections.

The Instrumentarium

170 exercise puppets entirely dedicated to the learning process of ESNAM students and hosted participants of the professional training courses.

They are accessible at all times during their hours of presence at the school. They represent a range of the different puppet techniques that could be studied at some point during the course curriculum or during a professional training course (Lyon glove puppets, Chinese glove puppets, body puppets, rod puppets, shadow theatre silhouettes, body masks…). Some of these puppets have neutral faces (without eyes or mouths) in order to facilitate learning to manipulate.

They were built by students, their instructors or commissioned from artists to meet a pedagogical need.

They are intended exclusively for students and trainees and cannot be lent.

The pedagogical collection

320 puppets created within the framework of the Institute and ESNAM activities.

These puppets are all linked to the history of the Institute and ESNAM. They are often the fruit of constructions created by the school’s different classes, under the direction of their instructors.

Students have the possibility to keep all the puppets they themselves build during their studies, with the exception of puppets created for collective shows. These become part of the pedagogical collection.

These puppets are accessible to teachers, students and staff of the Institute and ESNAM upon request. They are sometimes loaned to museums or other institutions for temporary exhibitions.

The Cultural Heritage Collection

About 1000 puppets and shadow theatre silhouettes from all over the world.

This collection consists of numerous puppets, very different in origin, period, technique or size.

A few examples: Chinese glove puppets, Guignols, a Japanese Bunraku-style puppet (Ningyo Joruri), water puppets from Viet Nam, Sicilian rod puppets, other rod puppets from Roubaix, marionettes from Burma, from Nepal or Sri Lanka, Indonesian rod puppets (wayang golek), shadow theatre silhouettes from Indonesia (wayang kulit) or Turkey (Karagöz), various puppets from Africa, Native American glove puppets, etc.

The collection has seen some very interesting entries in recent years. In particular, in 2014, the oldest pedagogical puppets kept at the Institute were reassigned and became part of this cultural heritage. That is to say all the ESNAM puppets dating from the first graduating class (1987-1990) to the fifth (2002-2005).

Between 2014 and 2019, Monique Créteur and her son Serge Couturier (Compagnie des marionnettes de Nantes) donated puppets from two of the company’s shows (“Ubu roi” and “La Belle et la Bête”) to the Institute.

In 2016, the Institute received, through the bequest of Marion Chesnais, puppets made or acquired by Jacques Chesnais, his father, puppeteer of the early 20th century and collector of puppets.

And most recently, in 2020, François Lazaro (Clastic Théâtre) also gave the Institute puppets and sets from some of his company’s shows.

Cultural heritage puppets can be lent to museums or to organisations that have signed a partnership agreement with the Institute. They are also used for exhibitions produced or created by the Institute.

Puppets dedicated to outreach initiatives

20 puppets representing the main puppet techniques.

This set of puppets is used for the Institute’s mediation activities in particular. The educational service regularly organizes workshops with schools. These workshops are led by artists (often ESNAM graduates) who can use these puppets to give demonstrations of manipulation or even manipulation exercises with students.

They can also be lent to organisations that have signed a partnership agreement with the Institute.