Crafting Pinocchio exhibit entrance

I’ve been so overwhelmed and deep into projects I’ve barely had time to breathe—but even though there’s light at the end of the tunnel, the burnout is real.

My friend Kristina and I, along with our friend Brigid, had planned a trip into New York City to see the Crafting del Toro’s Pinocchio exhibit this past Saturday, and it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered—there’s nothing like being in the presence of the work of masters. It heals, it fuels, it inspires.

The exhibit closes this coming Saturday, April 15, so if you want to see it, you’ve got just under a week. Here, however, is a look at some of my favorite moments from the exhibit and the day.

If you haven’t yet seen del Toro’s Pinocchio—an incredible artistic achievement in stop-motion and miniatures—and would like to, it is available on Netflix, along with a fascinating documentary on the making of called Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio: Handcarved Cinema.

In the meantime, enjoy!

Kristi and Kristina

I met Kristina in Wilton, so it would take us only about an hour and fifteen to get down to the museum.

MoMA sign

The tickets were timed, but we were still going to have to wait in a very long line to see the popular exhibit. We decided to visit the MoMA Design Store (translate: giant gift shop) across the street, since we arrived about forty minutes early.

Reissued Dali Tarot Deck Set

I considered this a good omen for the day! I actually own the ORIGINAL VERSION of this deck. That’s right–an original first edition, which I know was purchased overseas. My set is in a stunning velvet case, with the card edges gilt in gold. It was really a thrill to see this deck now available for purchase, even if it is a re-issue. I can’t really read on them–the energy doesn’t work for me–but I love Dali, but I’m glad to have them as just fine art.

Crafting Pinocchio exhibit entrance


Color schemes

I found these color palettes so interesting, in that each major environment section had its own color scheme. Any film should, but to see it spelled out in such detail here was just lovely.


In most versions that I’ve seen of Pinocchio (I admit–I grew up with the Disney version), it’s a whale that swallows Pinocchio and crew. In del Toro’s version, it’s a terrifying, nasty dogfish.

Plague Doctor puppet

Several of the puppets that peopled the world were on display. Of COURSE I liked the plague doctor the best!

Birch Branch

A company called ShadowMachine did much of the developing of the miniatures. According to the placard next to the display, this birch branch was fashioned from a cardboard tube, watercolor paper, Xerox copies, tissue paper, brown paper, and craft glue. It’s awe-inspiring to see ordinary stuff turned into something so life-like.


This coffin was also created by ShadowMachine in 2020 and was made out of Gator board foam, tissue paper, hot glue, craft glue, acrylic paint, and PanPastel, according to the placard next to the display case.


Death’s Realm was, for me, the most interesting place in the film.


ShadowMachine created this crab puppet in 2021. It’s created of steel, silicone, paint, and brass.

Fish on a Spit

The fish on a spit was crafted by ShadowMachine in 2020 of Polyurethane resin, silicone, brass, steel, and epoxy.


The exhibit included information on all aspects of the film. One of the most interesting things for me, as a writer, was this huge board tracking Pinocchio’s inner life. This is a character-driven story; the arc had to be done just right (which all of us, as writers, should be doing). It’s interesting to note that all of these were thumb-tacked. Which means that, at some point, they were probably moved around to ensure that eventually they were in an order that made sense.



Geppetto’s workshop. It’s amazing how these sets fill up the entire screen in the film. To see how tiny they actually are, and to know that people were creating on them, was kind of mind-blowing.


Of all the sets, this was the one I was most excited to see–the church. Hauntingly beautiful. In the Netflix Making of documentary, it’s noted that all of these sets had to be made so they could be pulled apart, so that the actors (the puppeteers) could have access to different parts of it to create the scenes. I’m sure this is only one section, and that some of the artifacts aren’t in the same positions they’re in in the film, because in the movie, the doors are at the back of the sanctuary.

My favorite quote

This is my favorite quote from the film, at the end. YES I cried.

Kristina and Brigid

Kristina and Brigid during a quick snack/coffee break at the outdoor cafe. It was a beautiful spring day in the city, but there was still a nip in the air.


A second part of the exhibit was down in the film center. The exhibit focused on Pinocchio’s score, songs, and del Toro’s other films.

Part 2 sign

Song lyrics

This draft of song lyrics written on notebook paper was appealing to me. It looks like a lot of my handwritten drafts. The song lyrics were written by del Toro.

Page from score

A page from the conductor’s score.


Brigid pointed out to me that if you stand to the side of the painting, you can see the depth that’s created by the layers of paint. STARRY NIGHT is brilliant, but prints and copies and photos of it just don’t do it justice. You really have to see the real thing to appreciate it.

Dali's Persistence of Memory

Having never seen PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY in person, I was blown away by how small it was. I had a poster in my foyer years ago of this–that eventually faded in the sun so I chucked it–but it was five times the size of this original.

And what’s a visit to New York City without getting one of those wonderful pretzels as big as my head?

Gift Shop Haul

My gift shop haul. I was SO EXCITED they had a bag with that quote on it I couldn’t stand it. And it was only ten bucks!!! WIN!!!

About kristipetersenschoonover

A ghost story writer who still sleeps with the lights on, Kristi Petersen Schoonover’s fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies; her traditionally published books include a short story collection, THE SHADOWS BEHIND. She was the recipient of three Norman Mailer Writers Colony Residencies and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She serves as co-host of the DARK DISCUSSIONS podcast, as founding editor of the dark literary journal 34 ORCHARD, and is a member of both the New England Horror Writers and the Horror Writers Association. Follow her adventures at kristipetersenschoonover.com.

Posted on April 10, 2023, in Deep Thoughts & Fun Stuff and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Wow, the exhibit is amazing, and that dogfish, eek!

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