Special Events

An optical what's on at the museum and elsewhere...

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Our website users across the world may be interested in the following heritage events, lectures and temporary exhibitions on optically-related subjects: 


Light is life
Light is colour
Light reveals...

The moment where sunshine illuminates a face or creates a glorious and fleeting pattern in nature, the magical twilight hours where artificial and natural light come together, the riotous neon of the city at night or the frosty magnificence of the Milky Way, these are the inspiration behind this exhibition. A Play on Light is a distillation of Kieran’s life’s work hitherto - a rich collection of people and places from round the world that encapsulates his relationship with life, colour and light. Always the light...

As a 13 year old growing up in Cork, Kieran Slyne mowed lawns, did paper rounds and washed cars to find the money for his first camera, an East German Praktica LB. Money that wasn’t spent on film and developing went on buying photography magazines as he gained inspiration from the greats of the 1970s, while his remaining spare time was spent at the Everyman Playhouse and the Cork Opera House doing sound and lighting as well as taking pictures for use in posters. The big move to Dublin came when, at 19, Kieran was selected out of hundreds of applicants for a job in RTÉ, the Irish national broadcaster. Working for many years as a lighting cameraman, mainly for documentaries, Kieran has travelled the world always seizing the moment to take stills. His work has been widely published in newspapers and magazines as well as being used for album covers.

To see more of Kieran’s work please visit his website

A Play On Light is brought to you as part of the Bloomsbury Festival 2020  This year's theme is VISION.

The exhibition will comply with the government’s current COVID-19 guidelines.

Exhibition Venue

St George’s Bloomsbury
Bloomsbury Way

Tuesday 20 October-Saturday 24 October
10:00am – 5:00pm


There will aslo be an online-only exhibition accessible via the Festival website from 16-25 October called....

Diffferent Perspectives

Visionary artist Mahlia Amatina invites you into a multi-sensory experience of colour, line, shape and form through tactile art that explores the creative side of neurodiversity. Drawing inspiration from the varied landscapes and rich flavours of her international roots and global travels, Mahlia’s visual vocabulary creates a narrative through abstraction. Mahlia was one of Women Beyond the Box’s Top 50 Influential Neurodiverse Women in 2019 and was twice awarded Arts Council England funding.

Gyan Sharma is an artist living with severe autism based in South London. Gyan’s work can be found at the cusp of abstraction and figuration in a deeply expressionist style. Awash with colour and texture, his visual art situates domestic sociality and kinship through depictions of familial characters and modes of transport. Hats figure too, as if the covering of heads signifies a common sensibility, one that envisions freedom and joy in the social experience of the everyday. Gyan’s art also features text, often inscribed in abstract space emphasising the intensity of certain motifs, from Uncle Salim to Jet Air and the city of Delhi. Much of his work can be understood as an expression of his life as it occurs, tracking the conditions that make it possible (written by Kashif Sharma-Patel).

Open House logo


This year's Open House Festival was very different from normal and spread across 19-27 September 2020. We regret that the College of Optometrists was not  open to visitors this year but  participated online only as part of a new-syle 'Festival'.

Although the Festival is now over, you can still watch our short Open House 2020 'Special Insight' video here:

Still from Special Insight video for Open House 2020

Museum Curator Neil Handley introduces the little known fact that part of our College building was the original home of the India Club in the 1950s. He then tells the story of 'A Spectacle with a History', the oldest identifiable donation to our museum, sent from India in 1909. Our predecessor body, the British Optical Association, had members throughout the colonies and dominions and the story of this object fits one of this year's Open House themes: colonial narratives. By assembling such an international collection the museum had, by the 1920s, been praised from thousands of miles away as 'A splendid thing'. [8 minutes duration]

We very much hope to participate as normal in the next Open House London event on Sunday 19 September 2021. [Cue long-term optimism!]



The College museum's current temporary exhibition runs until further notice alongside the permanent displays. [Currently closed: This exhibition will resume when the museum reopens]

Current temporary exhibition



100% Optical, the UK's fastest-growing (and now sole unified) optical trade show returns for the 8th time to the London Excel Centre from 23-25 January 2021. (Optical professionals and industry figures only).

Change of date: This event has now been put back to 8-10 May 2021.