The Puppet Theater Collection was established in 1940 in the context of a proposed exhibition on southern German puppetry in Munich. In addition to the numerous items and documents covering traditional puppetry from the end of the 18th century onwards, it contains an array of materials on contemporary forms of non-human performance art. The internationally oriented collection comprises some 13,000 figures, including glove, rod and shadow puppets, marionettes and other mechanized derivations such as the "Theatrum Mundi". It also encompasses complete bequests of puppet show booths, decorations and textbooks.
The collection's key objective lies in documenting popular and professional puppetry in Germany, although it can also claim an impressive range of items from across Europe, Asia and Africa. Mechanized figures and automata also number among the highlights.
Since 1980 the collection has been expanded to include fairground attractions. Extending to vaudeville, the circus and the curiosity shows seen at amusement parks, the collection brings to life the evolution of German fairs and funfairs from the 19th century until the present day. From shooting gallery equipment to a flea circus and the façade decorations from funfair rides, visitors can see everything needed for a successful amusement park of the Oktoberfest genre.