Mechanical magic lantern slides

Photograph by Egmont Contreras, ACMI

Mechanical magic lantern slides created basic moving pictures. ‘Slipping slides’ used two glass slides featuring complementary images – one stationary and one that ‘slipped’ over the other to give the illusion of movement, like crocodiles snapping their jaws. As appetite for more dynamic lantern shows increased, so did the complexity of slides. Levers were incorporated to make children appear to skip, and pulley systems used two discs to create movements like whirling windmills. Rackwork mechanisms made glass discs revolve in opposite directions to show planets orbiting the sun and were used in chromotopes to create hypnotic, kaleidoscopic effects.

On display until:

ACMI: Gallery 1

16 February 2031

Appears in


Kaleidoscopic colour: Chromotrope

A focus on distinctive and innovative examples of pattern, colour and movement.


Collection metadata

ACMI Identifier


Curatorial section

The Story of the Moving Image → Moving Pictures → 02. Play and Illusion


7106 times

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