The Truhlsen-Marmor Museum of the Eye was founded on November 2, 1980 as the Museum of Ophthalmology at the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). The brainchild of then-president of AAO, Frederick C. Blodi, MD, and CEO Bruce Spivey, MD, the museum presented its first exhibit at the 1982 Joint Meeting of the AAO and the International Council of Ophthalmology. Since then, the museum has opened an exhibit at every annual meeting of the Academy.
The Museum of the Eye originally collected only literature, instruments, photographs, spectacles and the Academy’s archival material. Today the museum houses 38,000 items related to ophthalmic history. The artifact collection includes art, furniture, instruments, stamps, coins, medals, memorabilia, literature, pharmaceuticals, and vision aids. Between 1980 and 2021, this collection was only available to the public by appointment.
The museum was offered a permanent public gallery space in the AAO headquarters building in San Francisco in 2017. Construction began in 2019, and the Museum of the Eye opened its doors to the public in July 2021.