Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Edinburgh

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Edinburgh (must see)

Founded by entrepreneur Maria Theresa Short in 1835 and a key site in Patrick Geddes' development of regional planning, Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is now home to over 100 interactive exhibits, including the original Camera Obscura, based over five floors including a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of Edinburgh.

After the very popular "Short's Popular Observatory", housed in a wooden and stone building next to the National Monument on Calton Hill, was pulled down by authorities in 1851, Maria Theresa Short moved to Castlehill. In 1852, she bought the Laird of Cockpen’s townhouse, adding two storeys to create Short's Observatory, Museum of Science and Art, in existence from 1853 to 1892.

In 1892, Patrick Geddes, a pioneering Scottish urban planner, sociologist, and ecologist, assumed management of the site, renamed it the "Outlook Tower," and organized it as a museum and urban study centre demonstrating his philosophy of planning, which was based on comprehensive surveys of the site, city, and region. He installed a series of exhibits on progressively broader geographic themes as one ascended the tower — first the world on the ground floor, then Europe, the English-speaking countries, Scotland, and Edinburgh — with the camera obscura itself occupying the topmost room.

The museum closed after Geddes' death in 1932. It was purchased by the University of Edinburgh in 1966 as the home for a proposed Patrick Geddes Centre and archive. In 1982, the building was sold to a private owner, though a one-room Geddes exhibit remained on the fourth floor.

The tower, with its six floors of interactive exhibitions, is still open to the public, making it the oldest purpose-built attraction in the city, and one of the oldest in the United Kingdom. Nowadays there are passing references to Maria Short and Patrick Geddes in the presentation on the top floor where the Camera Obscura is still in use to project a "virtual" tour of the city for visitors, and also on the rooftop terrace with its views of Edinburgh and telescopes. The floors beneath the Camera Obscura hold the "World of Illusions", which offers interactive exhibits demonstrating aspects of optical illusions, light, colour. There are also puzzles, a mirror maze, and a vortex tunnel. Although the project is primarily a tourist attraction, it also serves as a learning centre about optical illusions, holograms, the origins of photography and about Edinburgh itself.
Sight description based on wikipedia

This sight is featured in a self-guided walking tour of Edinburgh, Scotland within the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" which can be downloaded from iTunes App Store or Google Play. Please download the app to your mobile phone or tablet for travel directions for visiting this sight. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Camera Obscura and World of Illusions on Map

Sight Name: Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
Sight Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Historical Religious Buildings Walking Tour

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Literary Landmarks Tour

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Edinburgh Pub Crawl

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles

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