Hyperallergic takes a closer look (sorry, had to) at the history of microscopes during a recent visit to the Corning Museum of Glass.
Revealing the Invisible includes one of the few surviving 17th-century Antoni van Leeuwenhoek microscopes. Basically a metal container for a glass orb with a pin to hold a specimen, it was radical for visualizing, for the first time, things like blood cells and bacteria. The exhibition is the debut, according to the museum, of an authentic van Leeuwenhoek microscope in the United States. Artists at the Corning are attempting to recreate its still-mysterious 16th- to 17th-century glass techniques. These were often kept secret by makers to protect their unique products.
“The origins of scientific glass really are connected to the microscope,” Bolt explained, adding that Corning’s question with the exhibition was: “What story can we tell that nobody else could tell? The scientific glass, the engineered glass, is a story that, as far as we know, no one else has told.” With the library’s archives, and the glassmaking experts on-site, “we’ve got the resources here to really add to the scholarship.”
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