Object of the Week - Magic Lantern from the Presentation Convent, Dungarvan

The magic lantern was first invented in the 17th century.  A wooden frame housed a concave mirror in the back of a light source to direct as much light as possible through a small rectangular sheet of glass - a 'lantern slide' - which had an image painted on it, the image was projected onto a lens at the front.

After 1839 photographic images were projected with magic lanterns. An Argand lamp was used to light the image from the late 18th century. The invention of limelight in the 1820's resulted in a brighter image. The invention of the electric arc lamp in the 1860's was a safer method of lighting the lantern.

The popularity of magic lanterns declined after the introduction of moving picture film in the 1890's but they were widely used in education until slide projectors became common in the 1950's.