Théâtre Optique

Object On display

Charles-Émile Reynaud rarely sat still. In 1892, two years after developing the praxinoscope theatre, he debuted his grandest invention – the Théâtre Optique – in Paris. This device projected moving pictures that had been hand-painted onto flexible, coloured, regularly perforated strips of gelatine crystalloid, and it even featured synced sound via silver inlays, an electromagnet and an electric noise generator.

For its time, Reynaud’s device was the pinnacle of moving image projection and greatly influenced the Lumière brothers, who joined over 500,000 visitors to Reynaud’s performances. These 15-minute shows were predecessors to cartoons and let large gatherings watch projections together. They were some of the world’s first mass-viewing experiences.

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In ACMI's collection

On display until

16 February 2031

ACMI: Gallery 1

Collection metadata

ACMI Identifier

Curatorial section

The Story of the Moving Image → Moving Pictures → MI-02. Play and Illusion → MI-02-C02


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