Museum of Vision – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura
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San Francisco, California

Museum of Vision

A museum devoted to all things ophthalmological. 

The Museum of Vision (formerly the Museum of Ophthalmology) traces the history of ophthalmology through its collection of over 10,000 artifacts, rare books, and extensive archives. The collection dates from the third century B.C. to the present, and includes the history of the Academy, personal physician papers, medical instruments, over one thousand spectacles and additional vision aids.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology was founded in 1896, going on to establish The Foundation which used its funds to create the Museum of Vision in 1980. The Museum is dedicated to the dissemination of educational materials, exhibitions, publications and research information to members of the medical community and the general public and aims to educates people about the eye, sight and the history of eye care.

The San Francisco Headquarters features a small array of the intricate 19th century optometry instruments and artwork, with the exhibits changing out periodically. The website features exhibits past and present, including: ‘Eyes Examined’, an examination of 19th century case studies; ‘Spectacular Spectacles’, a history of eye glasses and vision aides; ‘Eyes of War’, World War II from the point of view of ophthalmologists who participated in the war; ‘To Fool the Eye’, insight into myths surrounding American medicine; ‘Windows to the Soul’, ancient legend and folklore surrounding eyes and sight.

The Museum also makes available their collection and archives to researchers, physicians, teachers and parents. Tours are by walk-in or call-in appointment, and led by a knowledgeable member of the staff.

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