The Luna Park: the old origins in the culture of the 1700s;
the recent origins in the majestic Industrial Exhibitions between 1800s and 1900s
At the end of the 19th century, the amusement park started developing into Luna Park. But it was not just the result of a transformation; its origins can be found also in some precise phenomena. Starting from the 1700s for example, the gardens of the aristocratic mansions started to enrich with games and instruments to amuse and surprise the hosts, like water games, statues that represented monsters or grotesque characters, constructions in esotic style, labyrinths, tangled woods, caves and also rides.
They were called "eccentric gardens" or "pleasure gardens". The taste for pure entertainment spread, from the aristocratic world to the popular festivals. Also, the Near East nurtured since a long time the passion for entertainment and the use of instruments suitable to create it: it is testified by the suntuous parties that the ottoman sultans, between the XIV° and XVIII°, used to celebrate in Turkey for special occasions, festivals and religious event and also by the public entertainment that since the beginning of the 1700s took place in Russia. Following the wave of this realities, during the same century, were born in central Europe the first stable Luna Park.
The historic passage from the amusement park to the modern Luna Park is also due to a more recent phenomenon: the Great Industrial Exhibitions. Between the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s, through the Exhibitions everybody could see the marvels of progress and technique. The astonishment of the public was not arisen by the personal abilities of an ambulant artist but by the extraordinary capacities of movement created by the new sources of energy like steam and electricity.
Room of Luna Park.
In this room, in a suggestive frame that recalls the enchanted world of Luna Park, the visitor can observe images of various Pleasure Gardens, with their unusual architectures like egyptian pyramids or chinese pagodas, labyrinths, caves, enchanted woods, monstruous statues and the first mechanic games that will develop into rides. Miniatures and old prints, in copies, accompany the visitors to the extraordinary parties of the ottoman sultans in Turkey, where the first rides used as public attractions appear. The journey goes on in Russia where the giant Russian swings were born, ancestors of the Ferris Wheels, and the Ice Mountains, renamed "Russian Mountains" in France.
The fascination ends in Europe, in the first stable amusement parks, in particular with the suggestive images of the Prater of Vienna. In the end, through selected photos that represent posters of the Universal Exhibitions and testify the presence of new, exciting rides, the visitor can live again the euphoric atmosphere and cheerful optimism that characterised the years of the "Belle èpoque".