Discover the museum's exhibitions

12 April 2008 - 08 June 2008, Heleneum - Lugano


The third appointment in the Dèibambini exhibition cycle explores the ways in which children’s art describes the many forms of facial expressions in the mysterious universe of masks.

Foto gallery

The exhibition

Children from three different primary school classes, and from a preschool class in Lugano, worked with their teachers on the project for a period of six months. They studied the face and the broad theme of masks and masking; the physical objects and animal camouflage which range from ritual masks to the stereotypical faces of the ‘Commedia dell'Arte’ and from Maori integral tattoos to the unpredictable outcomes of masking in Western culture. 

The museum's African and Melanesian masks were used as a source of inspiration for the children's work. The masks were therefore observed, examined, analysed and reproduced with drawings. Since these masks are conceived as faces and expressions of one's self, the children could discover the theme of the person and personality.  They were also introduced in a playful manner to the complex relationship between an ‘individual’ and her or his society.  

At the end of this educational journey, the preschool children created a partially unexpected collective mask. This mask unified them in a cohesive group and protected them. The primary school children produced individual faces/masks, as the result of an inner "research" which emphasizes individuality. This temporary exhibition presents six museum pieces, the children's fifty-two masks and some images to contextualize them. They unfold in the exhibition according to a game of formal references to the museum sculptures, while containing the paradigms of the imagination and the demands of modernity. The exhibition layout was designed by the architect Athena Demenga and also provides the child and adult visitor with food for thought. The exhibition catalogue was edited by the City of Lugano. It presents pictures of the young artists' creation and their own comments, as well as essays by Isabella Lenzo, Emanuela Realini, Silvia Paradela and Athena Demenga.


a cura di Isabella Lenzo Massei
Edizioni MCL / Città di Lugano, Lugano 2007,
96 pp.
Dèibambini 3
CHF 20
ISBN 88-7777-036-8