You Should Have Gone to the Optical Museum

Published: 30/07/2023 By Allan Fuller

The British Optical Association Museum at the College of Optometrists just off The Strand in London is the museum of the eye care professions.  

Founded in 1901, it is the oldest museum of ophthalmic optics (optometry) in the world. The  remarkable collection comprises over twenty eight thousand outstanding items, including historic vision aids, spectacle frames and lenses, as well as diagnostic and sight-testing equipment, protective shades and goggles and gruesome models of ocular disease. They  like to say that it’s the only museum where the exhibits look at you!
The museum illustrates the story of eye care and eyewear through regularly refreshed displays of objects, rare books, prints, photographs, historic trade literature, advertisements and works of art. It is simultaneously a museum of the history of science, medicine, design and fashion, with much to tell on the representation of sensory impairment and professional responses to visual disability.
It is an accredited museum, open to the public in the beautiful historic premises in the very centre of London. Anyone may visit but you need to book a guided tour in advance.