Zoopraxiscope – Leaving on a Jet Plane

Peta Cook with Zoopraxiscope lens

Kingston Curator leaves for Washington today. Latest News from the Royal Borough of Kingston website:

Kingston Museum’s most famous artefact is being flown across the Atlantic as it returns to its country of origin for the first time in more than 100 years.

Created by Eadward Muybridge in 1879 the zoopraxiscope is considered to be the first ever moving image projector. Although built in the United States, where Muybridge spent much of his working life, the Zoopraxiscope, along with nearly 3,000 other items were bequeathed to Kingston Museum when he died.

This fascinating device is now being transported to the Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC, for a major exhibition on the photography pioneer’s work.

Peta Cook, Curator of Kingston Museum, will be flying to Washington to ensure that the valuable artefact not only arrives safely but is re-assembled correctly.

She said:

“A lot of Muybridge’s ground breaking work took place in the United States so a lot of people do not realise that he was born, and died, in Kingston Upon Thames. I am extremely proud to be part of this momentous occasion, overseeing the return, albeit temporarily, of this historic device to its original home for the first time in more than a century.”

Eadweard Muybridge was born in Kingston upon Thames in 1830 but moved away to America in 1852.  He came back to live in Kingston in the 1890s and when he died in 1904 he bequeathed his equipment and prints to Kingston Museum.

Peta said:

“This historic journey marks the start of an exciting year for Kingston Museum and Muybridge. While we are excited to be lending the Zoopraxiscope to the US, British fans will not have to wait long for its return as the exhibition will be coming to the Tate Britain in September … with the Zoopraxiscope and other items on loan to the Tate, it has given us the opportunity to exhibit parts of Muybridge’s collection that have not been since the 1890s.”

Philip Brookman, Chief Curator and Head of Research at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, said:

“The importance of the Eadweard Muybridge collections at the Kingston Museum should not be underestimated. This is one of the most significant collections of Muybridge’s art and related materials in the world. The various materials left to the Borough of Kingston by Muybridge at the end of his life together help paint an intricate and personal picture of Muybridge and his art. This collection has immense value as a reference for study and as an inspiration for artists, scientists, cultural theorists, and the general public.”


See also:


Exhibitions will Project Moving Image Maestro’s Work

He was a pioneer of the moving image, a celebrated landscape photographer and innovative photographic artist. The many achievements of Eadweard Muybridge will be lauded this year on both sides of the Atlantic – in Washington DC and at Tate Britain in London.

But a truly unique element of his work will also be marked in the more modest surroundings of his home-town of Kingston upon Thames where a special exhibition, Muybridge Revolutions will be mounted, thanks to a £49,700 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Muybridge, who was born in the town in 1830 and died there in 1904, bequeathed nearly 3,000 objects to the local museum providing it with one of the world’s most important historic collections of pre-cinema moving image artefacts….

Starting in April, a major exhibition looking at all aspects of his work will open at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington. This will transfer to Tate Britain in early September. The exhibition will contain a number of items lent by Kingston Museum but, at the same time, Kingston will open its own exhibition featuring a number of items that have never before been on public display. There will also be a complementary show at Kingston University’s Stanley Picker Gallery including work produced by contemporary artists who have been given special access to the collection.

Commenting for the Heritage Lottery Fund, Head of HLF London Sue Bowers said:

“As cinema is now exploiting the potential of digitally-enhanced and computer-generated imagery as never before, there is certain to be renewed interest in Muybridge. People will have not one but two exhibitions in London [plus the Stanley Picker Gallery exhibition] so as to learn even more of this pioneer’s amazing achievements.”

As well as developing the stop-motion photographic process, Muybridge also invented the zoopraxiscope, one of the first ever machines capable of projecting a moving image. It worked by using specially-designed glass picture discs derived from his original photographic sequences. Only 70 such discs are known to exist in the world and 67 of these are in the possession of Kingston Museum, many of which will be on display during the exhibition. The Museum also holds thousands of the inventor’s ‘magic lantern’ slides which supported his world-wide lecture tours.

Kingston Museum will launch a new schools resource pack, a series of workshops and a programme of academic lectures inspired by Muybridge’s work. The grant will also enable the museum to conserve parts of its collection as well as making more items viewable both online and in the exhibition.

Museum curator Peta Cook said:

“As Eadweard Muybridge’s enduring artistic legacy continues to be a source of inspiration for international artists, scientists and cultural theorists we wish to take this opportunity to put Muybridge, and specifically the Kingston collection, back onto the global stage. Muybridge was an exciting character whose work never fails to intrigue. He was an innovator, pioneering photographic explorer and entrepreneur who, in many different ways, changed the way his audience viewed the world.

Forming a significant part of a major development project around the Muybridge material at Kingston, this exhibition represents a pivotal point in the Museum’s on-going work to secure an exciting future for this world-class collection.”

Derek Osbourne, leader of Kingston Council, said:

“We are delighted to be sharing these wonderful exhibits with Tate Britain and farther afield in Washington. Not only are they an important part of Kingston’s heritage but also play an integral role in the development of photography and cinematography with Muybridge’s influence still making a mark on modern cinema.

As well as promoting Kingston museum on an international level we are clearly excited at the opportunity to be exhibiting parts of our collection that are being displayed for the first time. This truly will be an enthralling year for any fan of Muybridge’s work.”