A Million Pictures: Magic Lantern Slide Heritage as Artefacts in the Common European History of Learning (EURO-MAGIC)

Cultural Heritage Plus financiado por NWO, AHRC, Belspo, MINECO & European Commission
Project type: 
Project leader: 
Dr. D. F. Kessler, Dr. D. J. Kember, Dr. D. K. Vanhoutte, Dr. D. Á. Quintana, Dr. D. F. J. Frutos Esteban
01/06/2015 to 31/05/2018

The magic lantern was the most important visual entertainment and means of instruction across nineteenth-century Europe. However, despite its pervasiveness across multiple scientific, educational and popular contexts, magic lantern slides remain under-researched. Although many libraries and museums across Europe hold tens of thousands of lantern slides in their collections, a lack of standards for documentation and preservation limits the impact of existing initiatives, hinders the recognition of the object’s heritage value and potential exploitation. EUROMAGIC addresses the sustainable preservation of this massive, untapped heritage resource. EUROMAGIC promotes sustainable use and management of lantern slides by:

  • Creating Knowledge about lantern slides through researching the contexts in which they were used.
  • Exploring the needs of stakeholders for access and re-use.
  • Providing innovative examples for creative re-use.
  • Examining ways for people to enhance their knowledge about lantern slides and so connect to their shared European history of learning.
  • Develop and implement standard working procedures on a European level for documentation, preservation and digitization.

This projects caters to the SRA themes 'Creating Knowledge' and 'Connecting people with heritage.' The interdisciplinary, transnational research team will therefore generate and disseminate knowledge concerning lantern slides as a pan-European aspect of cultural heritage.

Across four case studies, the project investigates the use of lantern slides in disseminating knowledge about European countries; in the practices of learned societies and educational institutions; in popular venues (theatres,opera houses, museums and observatories); and will also investigate methods for classifying the repertoire of these shows.
Expected outcomes:

  • Production of standardized vocabulary and working procedures across national and disciplinary research traditions.
  • Generation of sustainable documentation and access to digital copies of lantern slides and research results via virtual documentation centre.
  • Creation of protection-through-use projects (Apps, Animations, Reenactments) to transfer outcomes to individuals and organizations outside the immediate research community (creative industry, journalism, art).