Celebrity Spex Scandal

This exhibition ran from 14 September 2011 until 19 December 2013. It showed why famous people's glasses aren't all they're cracked up to be...

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We are often asked if our historic museum collection includes the spectacles of celebrities.

At the same time many eyewear brands fall over themselves to suggest that their products are favoured by A-list stars (or sometimes B and C-list!)

But how can you judge that a ‘celebrity’ pair is authentic? What if the famous person only wore them once and does an exact replica carry anything like the same kudos?

And since fame is so transient, can an historic object lose its celebrity status?

The spectacle sides of the murderer Dr Crippen

Then what about those people who are famous for all the wrong reasons – should we celebrate them?

The exhibition Celebrity Spex Scandal featured the spectacles of a criminal optician (Dr Crippen), an obese but nonetheless vain writer, a fickle actor who ordered a prop and then rejected it, a product banned for sale in America and the glasses of several ‘famous’ people of whom you may never even have heard!

Did you know? Sir Elton John is believed to have bought over 20,000 pairs of spectacles during his career yet he can still sell any of them on for thousands of pounds. We still don’t have any in our museum. Is that a scandal?

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