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From Magic Lantern to YouTube (CLOSED)

It is almost impossible to imagine our daily lives without photos and videos. Yet the technology is only about 200 years old. The exhibition From Magic Lantern to YouTube takes you on a time-travel journey through the development of photography and film. Do you know what a magic lantern is? Have you ever developed analogue photos yourself? Do you feel at home on YouTube and TikTok? It is all covered in this exhibition for the entire family.

What is a magic lantern?

The magic lantern, laterna magica, is a 17th-century invention for projecting images onto a screen. A predecessor of the slide and film projector. The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens is the alleged inventor of the magic lantern. He would have produced a working projection lantern around 1659. However, he was not very proud of his invention, because he was of the opinion that such an invention did not do any good to his status as a serious scientist.

The name magic lantern appeals to the imagination, but the lantern has nothing to do with magic. In earlier times people did not understand where those colourful images came from and attributed it to magic. The working of the magic lantern is based on a light source shining on a glass plate with drawing and projecting images via a lens on a screen. Later lanterns contain several lenses and often a hollow mirror as well. Originally a candle flame or an oil lamp was used as a light source, later a gas flame or limelight.

In this YouTube clip we demonstrate briefly how a magic lantern works [Dutch].