Magic Lantern

National Cinema Museum

This is perhaps the most famous pre-cinematic device. In a dark room, it could project pictures painted on glass using the lens-filtered light of a candle placed inside it. These items already existed in the first half of the 17th century (the famous Jesuit and collector Athanasius Kircher mentioned one in 1646) and it is likely that they were imported to the West from China. Magic lanterns were then made in Europe by the Dutchman Christiaan Huygens and the Italian Matteo Campani-Alimenis in 1659 and 1678. The museum in Turin has a number of magic lanterns and more than 2000 glass scenes, including daytime and night-time views of the Mausoleum of Hadrian in Rome.