• Open Call for Sculpture Artists: 236 Eyecups

    March 4, 2021

    Author: Stephanie Stewart Bailey, Museum Specialist, Truhlsen - Marmor Museum of the Eye® 

    A museum drawer full of small glass cups on stands. The cups are all a few inches tall, and the drawer has over fifty of them. Some are made of clear glass, some of blue glass, and some are made of green glass.

    Application Deadline: May 16, 2021

    What would you do with hundreds of eye cups? The Museum of the Eye® is looking for a Bay Area artist to create a sculpture or installation utilizing this collection. We encourage people who identify as underrepresented minorities to apply.

    The finalist’s sculpture will be on temporary view in our Education Center when the museum opens to the public and will be promoted via our online presence. The artist will be awarded with the donation of the eye cup collection, promotion of their work, and the final sculpture returned to them for ownership after being on display.

    A small metal cup sits on white background. The cup is silver-colored, is a few inches tall, and is made up of a small oval-mounted cup on a round base. The cup portion has a fluted design of vertical lines around it.

    What is an Eyecup?

    Eyecups or eye baths were popular starting in the 1700s. They were used to clean the eyes with a medicated antimicrobial solution, the rim conforming to the eye. This collection of eyecups range in shape and colors of the rainbow; from cobalt blue to pink, green and everywhere in between. They stand in varying heights, from a half inch to 3 inches tall. The dates range from 1930 to 1970 and were manufactured all over the world from a variety of materials including glass, metal, glazed ceramic and plastic. 

    What We Are Looking For

    Tell us your unique interpretation of these objects and how you would sculpt and display them. What will you use to construct your work? Concrete, silicone, glue, wood? Consider the mission and themes of the museum. You can find this information on the Museum of the Eye website, InstagramFacebook and Twitter.

    Will your sculpture be artistic or curatorial in nature? What abstract conglomerate could the 236 objects be shaped into so they would be eye-catching? Could their history be shown, a story told about them? How could they be molded so that they could be both symbolic and curious to look at?

    Size and Space Information

    Though there is not a size restriction, consideration should be made as to where the sculpture will be displayed. The sculpture will be on view within the museum’s multipurpose room that is simultaneously used as a classroom, conference and event space. The room features changing wall installations, two large windows, a big screen computer monitor, tables and chairs. We can provide a pedestal, vitrine or wall space dependent on need.

    Six small glass cups sit on a white background. The cups are all different shapes, but are all a few inches tall with an open top and a base. They are all made from colored glass, and are orange, light blue, dark blue, green, black and clear.

    Send Us Your Proposal

    The final deadline is May 16, 2021. Proposals will be reviewed in the order they are received. The sculpture will need to be completed by July 2021 for display purposes.

    Email the following to museum@aao.org with the subject line: 236 Eye Cups: Proposal + [Your Name].

    Attach the following in one document (.pdf or .doc)


    1. Proposal / written description* (not to exceed 1,000 words)
    2. 1 of the following: resume, statement, list of experience or website portfolio link*
    3. Up to 4 examples of your previous work* (.jpeg, .mp4 or web links)
    4. Sketch or visuals representing the proposal
    5. Build materials list

    Ask questions! If you’re unsure about an aspect of your proposal, email museum@aao.org.

    Due to employee regulations at the American Academy of Ophthalmology, staff should not apply for this open call, as it is against the organization’s gifting ethics.