Before Santa

The iconographic evolution of Santa Claus from the early nineteenth century to nowadays

The image of Santa is well-known and the same all around the world, but many people probably don’t know how the figure of Santa was born and how it has evolved throughout the centuries.

To find out more about the iconographic evolution of the main Christmas character, do not miss the exhibition ““Prima di Babbo Natale. Santa Claus nelle illustrazioni tra Ottocento e Novecento” (Before Santa. Santa Claus in the illustrations between the 19th and the 20th century), which will be inaugurated on the 7th of December at Palazzo Zuckermann. You have time until the 27th of January to visit the exhibition, proposed by the Department of Culture of the City of Padua and curated by Michele Asolati and Marco Callegari.

Santa as we know him nowadays is the symbol of a modern, globalized Christmas, his image being spread by Coke advertisements, but it has not always been like that: through 100 original images taken from American magazines and ancient postcards (including some of the first Italian evidences, displayed here for the first time) the exhibition at Palazzo Zuckermann will show you how Santa has transformed through time and how the perception people have of him has changed. The exhibition includes also a collection of ancient toys coming from the Luigi Testi Museum in Ponte di Brenta.

The exhibition will be accompanied by some interesting collateral events: on the 14th of December at 5:50 pm the curator Marco Callegari will give the speech “Before Santa: the evolution from Saint Nicholas to the pop icon Santa Claus” in the Sala del Medagliere of the Bottacin Museum at Palazzo Zuckermann, while on December 9 and 15 Palazzo Zuckermann will host creative workshops for children 5 to 10 years old. Curated but the Cultural Association Fantalica, the workshops will be focused on Santa’s image and, on this occasion, the adults accompanying children will have the chance to take part in guided tours of the exhibition.

The exhibition is free. It will be open from 10 am to 7 pm (closed on non-holiday Mondays). To get more information, please contact the Department of Culture calling the numbers +39 049 8205675 – 8205664 or write an email to

Event Details
Latest Events
Suggested Events