A New Exhibit: Through the Magnifying Glass: A Short History of the Microscope

Images based on the Copperplate engraving of a flea, Schem. XXXIV, from Robert Hooke's Micrographia: Or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses with Observations and Inquiries Thereupon. London: John Martin & James Allestry, 1665

Images based on the Copperplate engraving of a flea, Schem. XXXIV, from Robert Hooke's Micrographia: Or Some Physiological Descriptions of Minute Bodies Made by Magnifying Glasses with Observations and Inquiries Thereupon. London: John Martin & James Allestry, 1665

This exhibit showcases a selection of books from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that contain extraordinary illustrations of animals and plants as they were originally seen through the lenses of early microscopes. 

Our display also includes three eighteenth-century microscopes, one of which, the Culpeper-style English model, came to us with nine antique specimen slides. Guest curator Gregg Sobocinski has brought these historical slides to new life by capturing images with a modern microscope. These are displayed on the wall cases located on the right side of the exhibit area. Additionally visitors of this exhibit have the opportunity to view actual organic specimens by using the microscope located in the exhibit room.  Both the books and the historical microscopes are part of the Special Collections Library.

I want to thank Guest Curator, Gregg Sobocinski, Microscope Imaging Specialist in the University’s Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Department, for curating the “modern” section of the exhibit, and Cathleen A. Baker and Tom Hogarth of the Preservation & Conservation Department for their help in designing, preparing, and installing this display.  

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