Building a skiascope

gilman, skiascope in use               gilman, the skiascope closed

“The theoretic value of the skiascope is incontestable.”  —Benjamin Ives Gilman

In his Museum Ideals of Purpose and Method (1918 ), Gilman gives detailed instructions for making a skiascope, a device that will allow museum to see paintings and sculptures more clearly, by blocking glare, and other distractions.

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The instructions are long and complicated. Here’s a quick pictorial guide:

First, cut out the top and bottom

skiascope - 1

Make the wires, and attach them.

skiascope - 4

Make two lining blocks, and cut a block to hold them for when you glue the fabric on.

skiascope - 3

Wrap the fabric around the blocks, glue it together. Then take it off to cut the lunettes on the end, and replace.

skiascope - 6

Glue it on. Note: his advice about wax paper lining is important!

skiascope - 5

Let the glue set, and you’re done!

skiascope - 8 skiascope - 7

Next step: take it to a museum and see if, as Gilman suggests, it changes the way you view art. I’ll try that soon. One of several adventures I’m embarking on, for my book!


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