Dolls are often sad. The people working in the Doll Hospital in Naples know it well: day in and day out, “doctors” here diagnose young and old patients made in wood, papier-mâché, porcelain and plastic. Along these crowded hallways, working-class puppets and aristocratic ‘pupi’ are all treated the same, and precious Lenci ceramic dolls receive the same attention and care as popular tin dolls from the city’s poorest homes.
The Doll Hospital in Spaccanapoli, at the heart of the city, opened in the late 1800s. It was founded by Luigi Grassi, a set designer for both full-size and puppet theaters, who also fixed marionettes… until, one day, a woman walked into his workshop begging him to repair her child’s broken doll. When Grassi generously complied, soon the small toy was as good as new, and people talked about it all over town.
Grassi suddenly found himself with a honorary degree in toy medicine, and since then his workshop has become the place where all dolls, puppets and marionettes go to get well.
And where they can cure their sadness, and smile again.