British Optical Association Museum

The British Optical Association Museum explores and tells the story of the progression of eye-wear and optometry.

Founded by Mr J. H. Sutcliffe of the British Optical Association in 1901, this is a remarkable museum collection comprising over twenty thousand outstanding objects and archival items relating to the history of ophthalmic optics (optometry), the human eye and visual aids, as well as the representation of these subjects in art. Many of the objects in the museum are rare or unique.

They're certainly eye-catching! When the BOA voluntarily disbanded in 1980 the Museum was entrusted to the care of the new College of Optometrists. Now in its second century, it continues to be recognised as the oldest and one of the best optical museum collections in the world.

Look out for…

  • The beautiful rare 18th and 19th century spy glasses and telescopes
  • A hen wearing s-peckacles!
  • Scarlett-type spectacles from around 1728–1730—the oldest modern spectacles designed for continuous wear.
  • Earliest known sunglasses from around 1780 in the area of the Venetian lagoon
  • Dr. Samuel Johnson's spectacles from 1784

Museum Facilities


Audio Guide

Wheelchair Access


Tour Guide




Venue Hire

All information is drawn from or provided by the museums themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.