Making Light of It – Herschel explores art and Science of Light in Eighteenth Century

By Culture24 Reporter | 16 August 2013

Exhibition preview: Making Light of It – The art and Science of Light in the Eighteenth Century, Herschel Museum of Astronomy, Bath, until December 16 2013

A photo of various light-based implements on a wooden table inside a museum
© Herschel Museum of Astronomy
While busily polishing mirrors for his reflecting telescopes more than 200 years ago, William Herschel saw sunlight playing on a prism.

This apparently everyday glimpse of science in action ultimately led the astronomer to discover infrared. And taking 18th century domestic lighting as a starting point – particularly in modest townhouses such as the New King Street one Herschel called home – art historian James Hamilton looks at how light-based scientific discoveries influenced the artists of the period.

Rush lights, tallows, crystal chandeliers and even the ruinously expensive beeswax lit Georgian homes. The lights on display in the museum, including ones made by local craftsmen and artists, also become exhibits.

  • Open 1pm-5pm (11am-5pm Saturday and Sunday). Admission £3-£6 (family ticket £14.50). Follow the museum on Twitter @HerschelMuseum.
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