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September 20, 2011 > Museum of Vision offers free admission

Museum of Vision offers free admission

Submitted By Allison Neves

On Friday, September 23, the Museum of Vision, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, will participate in Smithsonian Magazine's seventh annual Museum Day. The Museum of Vision will join participating museums and cultural institutions nationwide, including six San Francisco museums, in opening their doors free of charge to all visitors who download the Museum Day ticket from the Smithsonian Museum Day web site: www.smithsonian.com/museumday.

The Museum of Vision is the only institution in the United States whose sole purpose is to preserve the history of ophthalmology and celebrate its unique contributions to science and health. Today, the Museum of Vision has one of the world's leading collections of ophthalmic history, containing approximately 38,000 items including artifacts, archives, and rare books.

The Museum of Vision is currently showcasing its anniversary exhibit entitled "Collecting Ophthalmology: 30 years at the Museum" in its San Francisco gallery. This exhibit highlights the wide array of artifacts dating from the 17th century to the present day. Included are selections from the rare book library, instrument collection and eyeglasses. A preview can be found online at the Museum's website.

"For more than 30 years, the mission of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology has been to advance ophthalmic education," said Jenny Benjamin, director of the Museum of Vision. "As a program of the Foundation, the Museum helps to achieve this objective by educating the public about the eye and eye health and the history of ophthalmology. The Smithsonian's Museum Day provides an excellent way to increase the public visibility of eye health issues and the many important contributions ophthalmology has made to medicine."

Those interested in perusing ophthalmic history, but who are unable to make it to the Museum's San Francisco gallery September 23 are encouraged to go online to visit the Museum's virtual exhibits. Museumofvision.org is home to six online exhibits as well as thousands of photos and artifacts. The exhibits include:

- Eyes Examined: Discover the scope of ophthalmic knowledge and practice at the turn of the last century. Cases culled from period journals provide insight into how common eye problems may have been handled in the early 1900s.

- Spectacular Spectacles: Explore the history of vision aids from eyeglasses to telescopes. Take a look at the obscure beginnings of eyewear 700 years ago to current fashion.

- To Fool the Eye: Take a look at the outrageous health claims made by colorful charlatans of the 18th and 19th centuries. Their bogus remedies claimed to cure poor eyesight and anything else that might trouble you.

- The Eyes of War: Explore the sacrifices of ophthalmologists as found in the Museum's Academy Archives as well as wartime innovations in ophthalmology.

Museum Day is a celebration of the dissemination of knowledge to anyone and everyone interested, without a price tag, emulating the free admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution's Washington, D.C.-based facilities. With support from CITGO, Museum Day 2011 is poised to be the largest to date, outdoing last year's record-breaking event. In 2010, museum goers downloaded 227,747 tickets resulting in more than 500,000 museum-goers visiting over 1,300 venues in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.

For a list of links to participating museums' and supporters' sites, visit www.smithsonian.com/museumday.

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