• Our First Anniversary: A Year in Review

    Author: Aubrey Minshew, Museum Specialist, Truhlsen - Marmor Museum of the Eye® 

    This July, we are celebrating the Museum of the Eye’s first anniversary of being open to the public! So much has changed from the day we opened our doors back in July 2021, and it has been a delightful journey getting to know our visitors all year. A man and a woman wear grey virtual reality headsets. They are both sitting on black stools and are leaning against a white table. The man is white with dark hair, and wears a brown suede jacket and grey pants. The woman is white with brown hair, and wears all black. They are sitting in front of a wall sign with a large image of a young, Black girl wearing a virtual reality headset and large green text that reads: Virtual Reality.

    Two visitors use the museum's virtual reality experience

    Over the last 12 months, we have welcomed thousands of people into the galleries. Our visitors come from all ages and backgrounds; some visitors live around the block, while others came to us from all over the world, from Finland to Saudi Arabia to Colombia. We’ve welcomed single travelers, families with children, retirees and employee groups from several different biotech companies. If you were to visit the museum today, you could just as easily have a conversation with a visiting ophthalmologist as you could with someone who is learning how their vision works for the very first time.  A group of seven adults stand in front a wall mural of large artificial eyes. The mural has many plastic eyes of different sizes and eye colors. The group is a mixture of men and woman, and they are all in their 50s or 60s, and one man is using a walking cane. The group all wears facemasks.

    A museum-going club visits our artificial eye mural

    We’ve also had many firsts over the last year. We opened our first seasonal exhibit, “Spectacular Spectacles,” and with it, published our first informational brochures. We hosted our first tours and started our first hands-on learning experience with the museum’s touch collection. Our name was plastered to the side of San Francisco cable cars and across travel websites. Even more fun, we got to host our first after-hours event and welcome our very first trick-or-treaters around Halloween.A San Francisco cable car with a sign on the side that reads: Museum of the Eye. The cable car has several people holding the rails and hanging off of the cable car. The car is crossing an intersection in front of a large, green tree and the sky is blue. A yellow building and Alcatraz Island can be seen in the background.

    Our logo on the Powell-Hyde cable car

    One of the most surprising and memorable discoveries of the year has been watching visitors interact with our “Innovation in Action” table. The original intention of the table was to have visitors reflect on what they had learned in the museum, and then dream of a possible future innovation in eye health. In addition to some fascinating ideas, visitors also began to leave us beautiful drawings of eyes, letters of thanks, and even stories about how ophthalmology has affected their lives. A drawing in colored pencil of a pair of eyes. The eyes have green iris, black pupils, and large black eyelashes.

    A drawing from the "Innovation in Action" table

    Some of these stories have been touching and personal. For instance, we learned from our Innovation drawings about a group of sisters who brought their father to the museum after a diagnosis of open-angle glaucoma. We also heard from an ocular melanoma survivor who was happy to learn more about the inventions that helped save his vision. And on the other end of the spectrum, we also heard from a proud child visiting from Alaska who told us they had no questions about eyes and vision because their mother was an ophthalmologist, and she knew all the answers! For us at the museum, checking the “Innovation in Action” board for new drawings and messages has turned out to be an unexpected joy at the end of each day. Check out our anniversary video on the Museum of the Eye YouTube channel for more of these beautiful drawings and messages. A man and a girl draw at a white table with a black bulletin board. They are both facing away from the camera. The girl sits on a stool while the man is standing next to her, leaning on the table. They are both white - the girl wears blue jeans and grey jacket and has long brown hair. The man wears a black baseball cap, a red jacket, and black shorts. The table has several sheets of paper adhered to it, and many small round magnets. It also has a sign with large green text that reads: Be the Innovator.

    Visitors draw at the Innovation in Action table

    We are both excited and grateful moving into the Museum of the Eye’s second year of being open to the public. We’d like to thank all of our wonderful visitors, donors, and supporters for their questions, feedback, patience, and enthusiasm, and we look forward to creating new experiences that explore the science of sight next year!

    To watch the museum’s Year in Review video and other fascinating stories, visit the museum’s YouTube page. To learn about upcoming museum exhibits, visit aao.org/special-exhibitions, and to see new events, visit aao.org/museum-events.