Five-Minutes of Background
A Brief Introduction to Magic Lantern Shows
Welcome! In this virtual museum, well teach you systematically about the incredible variety of magic lantern shows that were popular for two generations before the movies arrived in America in 1896, and for a generation afterwards. During that time the lantern played a critical role in American entertainment, popular education, religion, social reform, fraternal societies, current events, and more.
Start exploring magic lantern shows with this Introduction. Then take the two Tours. See More Info for Scholarly Background, Links to other sites, Collecting Tips, a Kids’ Page, Who We Are, and How To See (or Book) a Show. Click the images to enlarge. Click “Archival Notes,” just below, for background. Click here for a Note to Scholars. And, finally, click “Next,” just below, to move to the next section. Enjoy!
INTRODUCTION | What is a magic lantern? | Magic lantern shows | Early showmen & shows | Kinds of lanterns | Kinds of slides | Summary