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Glasses and vision, through the human point of view

December 30, 2016 – May 27, 2017


The exhibition will trace an object that is familiar to us all, eyeglasses, which are used on a daily basis by millions of people the world over.

Contact Lenses design: Tal Gur, Photo: Shai Ben Efraim

Do we see the world as it really is? Does vision truly operate as we experience it, like a camera photographing a sequence of objective actions? And does the eye reflect the world in a direct
and transparent manner?

In the well-known story The Emperor’s New Clothes, the emperor marches before his entire people without anyone commenting on his absence of clothes, until a small child declares that he is, in
fact, naked. The viewers were imprisoned by their blindness, as is every person observing the world. Vision itself has not, of course, changed in the course of human history. Yet its meaning – which depends on changing cultural contexts rather than on physiology – has been transformed.

Different cultural contexts guide us throughout this exhibition, which examines eyeglasses and vision from a human point of view. Like many material objects, eyeglasses have a rich biography; yet more than historical facts, this biography reflects systems of communication, layers of memory, and cultural and economic changes. The history of eyeglasses is a history of culture.

Claude Samuel Collection

The Upper Gallery features five cultural milestones on the journey of eyeglasses throughout the ages. This gallery contains over 400 rare items from the collection of the optometrist Claude Samuel, which date from the 17th century to the present.

Photo: Shai Ben Efraim

The Dr. Shulamit Katzman Gallery (The Lower Gallery) features a unique project created by Israeli designers and architects, who expand our understanding of vision and of the way we perceive the world by asking: What are eyeglasses?

Photo: Shai Ben Efraim

The Design Lab explores the transformation of reality by focusing on the futuristic dimension of eyeglasses. A special application enables viewers to be fitted with a virtual pair of glasses and to photograph themselves wearing them. VR glasses enable viewers to watch virtual reality films screened in collaboration with the Holon Cinematheque. Lastly, options for eyeglass RE-PAIR are explored in a workshop created in collaboration with REFORMA Eyewear.

Photo: Rafi Delouya

In the Peripheral Corridor, The Aharon Feiner Eden Materials Library features the exhibition Vision Test, which explores three central elements of vision – focus, color, and distance – and offers interpretations of different challenges to vision by means of various design strategies, materials, and technologies.

Photo: Shai Ben Efraim

These numerous perspectives, which are explored throughout the museum, come together to offer a comprehensive view of vision and eyeglasses.