Virtual microscopy gallery

We look at the world of microscopes from an optical and social perspective. We mark the contribution of the early microscopical pioneers and also that of Ernst Ruska, who, if not exactly bringing the optical side of the story to an end, took microscopy in a direction the museum cannot follow.

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Explore the following pages in this virtual gallery


Did the Celts use liquid lens microscopes?

Early microscopes

The first simple insect viewers.

Hooke's Micrographia

The famous image of a flea.

Botanical viewers

Wordsworth enjoyed viewing the daffodils fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Some of his more scientifically minded friends would have picked the flowers instead! How that would have annoyed the Lake District National Park rangers had they existed.

Later microscopes

Microscopes for collectors, scientists and schools

Electron microscopy

Moving away from the optical microscope.


Did you know?

The word 'microscope' was first coined in 1656, possibly half a century after the invention of the first instrument to which we would now give the name. The adjective 'microscopic' (as in pertaining to the function of a microscope) first occurs in 1680, but the use of the word to mean 'very small' does not occur before 1760.