MOTUS. The Prehistory of the Automobile

8 Apr – 25 Set 2022

The exhibition “MOTUS. The Prehistory of the Automobile” is being held at MAUTO in Turin, from 8th April through 25th September 2022. It is an exciting space and time travel to retrace the major breakthroughs in the history of ‘Automotivity’: from the Sumerian wheel in 2500 BC to the first car, the Benz Patent Motorwagen, in 1886.

Thirteen different works are on display – either physically reconstructed or in 3D models – in order to explore a still topical theme rooted in myth: man’s great challenge to move things and move independently.

The exhibition

The exhibition “MOTUS. The Prehistory of the Automobile”, presented for the first time to the general public at MAUTO in Turin, retraces the main milestones of man’s search for independent movement. The three-wheeled car designed and built by Karl Benz in 1886 is the highlight of this journey: a carriage propelled by the new and revolutionary ‘internal combustion’ engine, marking the watershed between automobile history and prehistory.

From ancient Greek and Egyptian civilisations, through the Renaissance, to Europe and America at the time of the Industrial Revolution, the exhibition travels in space and time, offering reconstructions of working models, car ancestors, and multimedia installations explaining how they work.

This highly educational project supported by a solid scientific basis is exciting for all, older and younger, generations. In most cases, these reconstructions reproducing machines and devices that have come down to us only through literary sources are the result of meticulous investigations of historical and iconographic sources.

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The exhibition includes, among others, the ‘Wheel of Ur’ (Mesopotamia, 3rd millennium B.C.), the ‘Mobile siege tower’ (Rhodes, 304 B.C.), Hero’s ‘Mobile theatre’ (Alexandria, 50 A.D.), Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Self-propelled cart’ (1478-1485) and the ‘Velocimano’ (Italy, 1819).

The brainchild of the Museo Galileo in Florence and the Sidecar Museum in Cingoli (Macerata), “MOTUS. The Prehistory of the Automobile” is curated by Giovanni Di Pasquale, historian of ancient science and technology and Scientific Deputy Director of the Museo Galileo, and Costantino Frontalini, Director of the Museo del Sidecar. It is co-produced by Museo Galileo and Civita Mostre e Musei in collaboration with MAUTO. Reconstructions by the Museo del Sidecar; 3D animations by the Museo Galileo’s Multimedia Laboratory; and interactive exhibits by camerAnebbia creative studio in Milan.


8 Apr – 25 Set 2022 MAUTO, Museo Nazionale dell’Automobile di Torino.

Monday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Tuesday to Sunday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Ticket office closes one hour before closing time.

(or enter the link to the specific exhibition)



Biglietto intero 15 €

Standard ticket € 15

Discounted ticket € 12: visitors over 65, 18-25 years old, groups of more than 15 people

Discounted ticket € 10: special concessions

Schools: € 3

Children from 6 to 17 years: 5 €.

Free for Children from 0 to 5, journalists with press card, holders of Abbonamento Musei Torino Piemonte or of Torino + Piemonte Card, > 67% disabled people and one carer, group leaders (1 every 15 people), licensed tour guides, authorized teachers.

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