m

THE SKIASCOPE

THE SKIASCOPE

IN

USE

A

LONG and unfamiliar name for a small and not un"
familiar thing. The word means
shadow-seer," the seer
from and into shadows (cneta, shadow; a/coirec*, to see) The
skiascope uses looking from shadow as a means of looking
.

shadow. It has been devised for the purpose of demonstrating a visual principle not yet given the importance

into

it

deserves

by museum

people.

seeing, it is more important that the eyes should be sufthan that the object should be abundantly lighted.
shaded
ficiently

For good

To prove

this principle

of diminishing our field of

we must provide some means

view so that the eyes are shaded

approximately from everything except the object looked
at. The skiascope does this in handy fashion, with the
result that we see things well through it in almost any
lighting.
tical

ter

The instrument

and a

with

it

things well

has, therefore, at once a prac-

The

user not only sees betbut also learns that the chief obstacle to seeing
theoretical value.

is

generally glare from elsewhere.

THE SKIASCOPE

239

the importance of keeping sources
of light out of the eyes is now admitted. The lesson was
taught conspicuously at the Panama-Pacific Exposition,

In

and

artificial lighting

New York

later at the Statue of Liberty in

We have found

Harbor.

show things at night
the old fashion, by distributing

that the best

way

to

not to light them up in
sources of light over them to dispute the observer's visual
strength with the objects to be seen, but to show them

is

a glow, which, though it may be dimmer, contains no
brilliant points to deaden the susceptibility of the eyes.
in

be impossible to conceal the
sources of light for example, the low windows or the ceilIn natural lighting

it

may

:

ing lights of a side- or top-lighted museum gallery. An
alternative in case of need is to shade the visitor's eyes;

and

this the skiascope does.

The instrument

consists essentially of a small, light

box

with flexible sides, open at the ends, lined with black and
divided longitudinally by a central black partition; one

end of the box being shaped to fit closely against the eyes,
and the other broadened to give a sufficient field of view.

The flexible
when not in

sides permit of shutting the skiascope

up

Wires forming a handle turn up out of
the way, reducing the instrument to about the size of a
use.

small thin book, capable of being carried in a good -sized

pocket.

Eye-shades of various forms are common. The skiascope is a novelty only in the handy way in which it rethe observer's view to a small part of the normal
of vision. At a distance of six or eight feet from a

stricts
field

wall he sees only a patch of

it

perhaps four feet high and

three feet broad. If the space between

dows

room

two adjacent win-

not too narrow, he can
inspect an object hung between them without getting the
glare from either. The view of an object so placed which
of a side-lighted

is

MUSEUM IDEALS

240

the skiascope gives is a revelation. Generally, the window
wall of a gallery is regarded as so much space lost for seri-

ous exhibition purposes; or at best as appropriate only
for things not needing, perhaps not deserving, to be seen
in detail. The skiascope makes the space on a window wall
as valuable within limits as any.
(unless there
flection

is

A window wall

cross-lighting) only indirectly

from the

rest of the

room; but

is

lighted

and by

re-

this illumination

proves in most cases quite enough. Not lack of light but
lack of sight accounts for its unavailability to the unshielded eye.

But the value of an eye-shade like the skiascope is not
confined to window walls. Raising it to the eyes in a toplighted gallery, a noticeably deeper tone spreads over the
pictures,

and accentuated

the" sculptures.

We

lights

and shadows appear on

realize that generally the fraction of

our view and perhaps also illuminated
parts of walls and floors, have robbed the canvases and
marbles of a share of their designed effectiveness.
ceiling light within

The museum

use of an eye-shade, however handy, will
doubtless always be a restricted one. For the occasional

advantages it gives, people will hardly care to burden
themselves with an apparatus conspicuous in use and needing to be carried about. Yet in galleries abroad the oldfashioned tubular eye-shades are sometimes handed visitors for use in inspecting individual masterpieces. In
certain galleries skiascopes might,

it

would seem, be added

to the facilities, such as chairs and catalogues, offered for
the visitor's comfort and information. When not in use,

the skiascope might hang at the doorways. Specially

in-

terested persons would certainly appreciate an aid to
good seeing; and the offer of it would give the museum a

wider freedom in the use for exhibition purposes of any
parts of the interior particularly subject to glare.

THE SKIASCOPE
The theoretic value of the skiascope is
The demonstration it gives that avoidance

241
incontestable.
of glare in the

a prime necessity in museum planning
and installation will surely in future lead to the adoption
of means to minimize the evil. The skiascope is here
visitor's

eyes

is

offered as a factor in

an anti-glare propaganda.

THE SKIASCOPE CLOSED

As the skiascope
proposition,

it

may

very likely never become a commercial
be of use to describe its make and making

will

in detail.

Parts
1
Two pieces of three-sixteenths inch board six and one half
inches long by five inches wide, one end shaped as shown (full
.

convenience of tracing) in Figures 1 and 1 bis. Each is
stained oak on one side and the edges. These are respectively
the forehead and cheek pieces of the instrument. The forehead
size for

two grooves, one sixteenth inch deep, on the raw side,
and the cheek piece one, as shown.
2. A piece of black flannel, not too heavy, shaped as shown in
Figure 2. This makes the flexible sides, the middle partition and
the lining of forehead and cheek pieces.

piece has

Two wire attachments (size 14) forming together the
handle of the skiascope, shaped as shown in Figure 3. The three
ends of these wires are secured in the grooves of the boards by
minute staples driven through and clinched.
3.

Q

2*

\/

THE SKIASCOPE

245

Construction

The

pair of lining blocks each shaped as in Figure 4 and
with three-sixteenths inch central holes from end to end are used
as forms over which to stretch into position the flannel lining of
4.

the instrument while
after described;

and

it is

being cut and glued together as herelater in glueing the forehead and

also

cheek pieces to the lining.
5. The bed-block shaped as shown in Figure 5 is used in glueing the forehead and cheek pieces to the lining when this is

o 3"

formed up over the lining blocks. It brings the upper surface of
the lining blocks to a level position in order to hold a weight or
clamps conveniently.

MUSEUM IDEALS

246

The two

wire clamps, each shaped as shown in Figure 6,
are used in the process of covering the lining blocks with the
flannel used as lining in order to hold them closely together as
6.

hereafter described.

The two prongs

of

one are inserted into

the central holes of the larger ends of the two blocks and those
of the other into the holes at the smaller ends.

To form up the lining
Cut a piece of the flannel somewhat larger than the pattern
shown in Figure 2: as there indicated by dotted lines. Flannel
being a stretchy material, the attempt to fit it if previously cut
according to the pattern is likely to give trouble. Flannel is
chosen rather than any stiff material for the less disturbing lines
with which it frames the field of view. Cut a piece off the flannel
along the line AB. With a red crayon draw a line on the flannel parallel to and half an inch back of the line AB. Fasten the
flannel along this line to one edge of one of
''
the rectangular sides of one of the lining
3
blocks with a few thumb tacks. The small
end of the block should lie toward A, the
large end toward B. Wrap the block tightly
in the flannel. When wholly covered with
one thickness, place the other lining block
against the covered block, small end to
small end, and its rectangular sides in a
with
the
plane
rectangular sides of the covered block. Insert
the two clamps in the two ends of the blocks, thus fastening
them firmly together. Now, with the rest of the flannel, cover

THE SKIASCOPE
the second block tightly, securing

by

another set of

thumb

tacks.

it

The

247

at the last edge reached
flannel being larger than

the pattern will lap over the ends of the blocks and more than
cover the last face of the second block. Trim off the superfluous
flannel at the four edges of both ends and also at the last edge
secured by the thumb tacks, leaving here also a border half

an inch wide as on the front edge AB. Now, glue the two flannel
borders down, letting the glue run closely along the interstice
between the blocks. This secures the line CD of the finished
lining
line

in Figure 2 to the line C'D' in that figure, and the
to the line E'F'. When the glue has set under pressure,
the thumb tacks. With pieces of pasteboard cut to the

shown

EF

remove
two lining curves shown by dotted lines in Figures 1 and 1 bis,
mark out these curves in red crayon at the smaller end of the
covered blocks, now secured together, one curve on each rec-

tangular face. Run the crayon also along all four longitudinal
edges of the covered double block. This is necessary because
the lining must be taken off the double block to be further cut

and needs to be replaced in exactly the same position for the
final glueing on of the forehead and cheek pieces. Now take
the clamps out of the blocks and slip the lining from them.
Then, at the larger end of the lining, cut the central partition
away from the top (forehead face) and bottom (cheek face) of
the lining to a point one and a half inches from the end. Then,
cut straight across the central partition from the end of one of
the previous cuts to the end of the other. Repeat the process at
the small end of the lining, with this difference: the cut along
the top (forehead face) of the lining should extend to a point
one and three eighths inches from the end, and the cut along
the bottom (cheek face) to a point two and one eighth inches
from the end. After the central partition has thus been cut
away at both ends, cut out the lunettes marked out in red crayon
on each face of the lining. Carefully replacing the lining blocks

and clamping them and seeing that the ends and
the marked edges are exactly in place, put the whole on the
bed-block as shown in Figure 5 in readiness for the final glueing on of the forehead and cheek pieces.
in the lining

and cheek pieces
As the wires in the grooves project slightly above the surface
of the forehead and cheek pieces, it is well to have two shallow
grooves in corresponding places on that side of the lining blocks
to which the forehead piece is to be glued and one on the other

To glue on

the forehead

248

MUSEUM IDEALS

Mark out the lining curve which appears on the upper
side.
face of the covered block on the wired side of the corresponding
forehead or cheek piece. Spread an even coat of glue, neither too
thin nor too thick, over the whole wired surface up to the lining
curve and place this piece upon the covered double lining block,
taking care that it is exactly in place. Turn the whole over on
the bed-block and glue the other piece to the other flannel surface of the lining in the same way. When the glue has set, remove the weight or clamps used in the process, take out the lining blocks and trim out the strip of flannel which forms the
lunette and which has been left as a stay. The skiascope is
then finished. If the pressure has forced some of the glue
through the flannel and caused it to stick to the blocks, they
may be freed by carefully inserting a thin knife. But much
the better way is to Insert strips of paraffin paper in advance
between the lining blocks and the flannel. The glue will not
penetrate the paper strips, and they can easily be removed
after removing the blocks.

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