Magic Lantern Slides
25 February 2016
A major European heritage project is researching how important Victorian and Edwardian images held in museum and archive collections can be used for entertainment, enjoyment and education today. The University of Exeter is leading the UK element of the partnership, and RAMM’s collection of 5,000 magic lantern slides have now been digitized, catalogued and added to the pan-European online database.
Magic lantern shows were popular from the 1880s until to 1950s in private homes or at public events in churches, town halls, schools, and societies. Visiting lecturers used them as props for different purposes – as a teaching resource or during temperance or religious shows to encourage people to change their lifestyles. The slides contain a wide range of themes including photographs of local scenes and global travels, and hand painted images of nature and biology. Although the technology has been superseded by digital projectors and images, the slides contain many beautiful images which are appealing in their own right, while others reveal how far attitudes in society have changed during the twentieth century.
Old images – new uses
The digitized images are proving popular with RAMM’s visitors and have been showcased in a wide range of public events including a late evening Halloween experience, and a vintage ball with an Alice in Wonderland theme. A selection of the slides are available on RAMM’ s Collections Explorer online database, with more to be added over coming months.
For further information about the project visit the website ‘A Million Pictures’.