Archive for February 13, 2020

I can see clearly now

Posted: February 13, 2020 in History, London, UK
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I recently had the opportunity to visit the British Optical Museum at the College of Optometrists near Charing Cross in London. The College is the regulatory authority for all professions to do with eyes except for surgery.

The museum was founded in 1901 by the British Optical Association and moved around London as they moved headquarters. It opened to the public in 1914. In 1980 the collection passed to the College of Optometrists and the current museum, which occupies the college basement, opened in 2003.

A depiction of Early Chinese glasses

According to legend spectacles were used in China as early as the time of Confucius (c500BC) and Marco Polo reported their use there in the 13th century AD. They began to appear in Europe around the 14th century.

The collection covers the history of spectacles and eye tests and also the more wacky and outrageous things that have been developed or proposed.

The museum is open to the public most week-days by pre-arrangement with the college and is well worth a visit.