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					A Podcast Guided Tour of the Shanghai Eyeglasses Museum

Leave the usual guided walking tours behind and move at your own pace with an audio guide. This bilingual podcast is presented by Shanghai Daily and supervised by the Shanghai Science and Technology Committee.

Do you know the origin of eyeglasses or how many shortsighted people there are in the world? Why do babies often fail to grasp things right in front of them? All these questions can be answered at the Shanghai Eyeglasses Museum. Located on the second and third floors of Baoshan Community Culture Center on Baochang Rd., the museum is a cool place to learn some interesting things and also have some fun. Now open your eyes wide and take a good look around.

Second floor: All About Eyes

Walk up the steps to the second floor. Here you will find yourself standing in front of a large screen. Take a seat and watch a video clip titled “See a Better World with Your Own Eyes.” It gives you a better understanding of the importance of our eyes from a more scientific perspective.

Walking out of the projection booth, we are now in the exhibition hall. To start, and to the right, we’ll learn something about “The Origin and Evolution of Eyes.” Can you believe that the history of eyes began from a tiny trilobite during the Cambrian Explosion 54.3 million years ago? Did you know the world reflected in human eyes is originally inverted due to the principle of pinhole imaging? Take a few minutes to browse around. By the way, each exhibit includes Braille, therefore, blind people can also visit the museum conveniently.

Take a few steps forward and you’ll notice the video “Human Eyes” on your right side. It displays an experiment to introduce how human eyes become accustomed to an inverted world. Generally, it takes a newborn baby eight days to adjust to the difference between an inverted image and an un-inverted world. This period of adaptation is a wonder of nature, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, don’t forget the “See the World through the Eyes of Animals” displayed on the left side as you walk along the path. Let’s take a look at the display. A shark sees the world in yellow while to a bee everything is purple. But to a horse, everything is blue and green. Thus if you stand in front of it, you may appear to be a tree. Eagles have

broader vision, kind of like a camera with a wide-angle lens, compared to humans.

Going a little bit forward, you will notice a large model of an eye sparkling on your right side. Press the buttons to learn the different parts of the eye as indicated by the blue lights. This display gives a better idea of how the eye works.

Walk straight ahead as eight “Pioneers in Optical Technology” are waiting to tell you their stories regarding eyes and eyeglasses. They are Bacon, Euclid, and so forth. The most glorious laureateship goes, of course, to Mozi, who is the first to mention the optical principle of “pinhole imaging” in his book. The principle forms the headstone of optical science, and therefore Mozi is regarded as the father of optical technology.

A video titled “Optics and Optical Adjustment” introduces the pathology of myopia (shortsightedness) and is to your left. Professor Chu Renyuan, an expert in the field, created the video. Watch carefully, and you will learn an effective exercise that may help improve your eyesight. Beside the video, there are elaborations on six types of eye problems resulting from ametropia including myopia, astigmatism and presbyopia.

Move on into a cubicle where a mock tourist guide, Dr. Eyes, is giving an animated version about the evolution of eyes. It is also a review of the knowledge we have learned in previous stops. If you are confused by how the eye works you can find the answers here.

Walk out of the cubicle and into the next room, “Eyes and Health.” It’s on the right side and teaches you how to take care of your eyes. Diet, eye exercises, contact lens and eye drops can all help keep your eyes healthy.

Before you go, don’t forget to have some fun at one of the four computers at the “Virtual Optical Lab” on the left side. By clicking different entries, you learn more details about the evolution of eyes, as well as the manufacturing and collection of eyeglasses.

Straight ahead is an interactive item titled “An Optical Experience”. Here you can stand opposite the screen and press the virtual buttons to select appropriate eyeglasses in this game. You are required to utilize what you have learned about optics. It is a good test. Maybe you can score higher than your friends or family members.

Now turn left and follow us to the final exhibition hall on this floor: “Eyeglasses and Optical Materials Show”. The hall is divided into two parts. The right part exhibits pictures, machines, logos, documents and initial advertisements concerning eyeglasses. The left side showcases eyeglasses of many materials and styles. Can you distinguish metal frames and nonmetal ones? Can you tell the difference between organic eyeglasses and inorganic ones? The information on the exhibitive board will uncover these secrets.

This is the end of exhibits on the second floor. Take a rest for a few minutes and then go to the third floor.

The Third Floor: All About Eyeglasses

As you marvel at the giant hawksbill-made eyeglasses on the left side of the entrance, you’re beginning a journey on the third floor, which exhibits everything about eyeglasses. All eyeglasses must undergo many elaborate processes before somebody can wear them.

Turn right into the exhibition hall. The pictures on the right side show the Chinese history of spectacles. A legend holds that Huangdi, the ancestor of the Chinese nation, observed the stars through a lens.

Evidence in Shangshu (The Book of History) proves that the use of crystal eyeglasses dates back to 2,000 BC, meaning China is one of the earliest countries to invent eyeglasses. Notice the “Ten Origins of Chinese Spectacles”. Each provides an interesting story. At the end of this section, there is a wall display showing China’s glorious history in the manufacturing of eyeglasses. Can you count them out?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the corridor, you can see three multimedia videos: “The Earliest Eyeglasses”, “Chinese Optical Master” and “Eyeglasses in the West During the Industrial

Revolution”. By means of virtual imaging, the first video shows where archeologists unearthed the tomb of Liujin, son of Emperor Guanwu of the Eastern Han Dynasty (around 37 AD). It was during this excavation that the earliest eyeglasses, Aidai, meaning thick clouds in Chinese, were found. In the second video, you learn China’s contemporary history of manufacturing eyeglasses. You also learn that Sun Yunqiu was the first optometrist in the world. The third video recounts the history of the development of optical science in the West.

Have you noticed that as you walk along the corridor, the picture frames light up according to your pace? Its melodious sound and lights remind you to have a look at the breakthroughs in the history of

eyeglasses from Mozi (460—376 BC) to current times.

Near the end of the corridor is a 3D image of an ancient pair of eyeglasses. You can observe it from every angle. It’s rather amazing that the craft was so advanced even before the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

Next, turn left and follow us to find the ancient eyeglasses exhibited. To start, let’s watch a video clip brought to you by the famous eyeglasses collector Mr. Zhao Mengjiang. He relates some of the more exciting moments from his collecting experiences as well as the legends, history, materials and manufacturing of eyeglasses.

On the right side of the exhibition hall is an array of ancient Chinese eyeglasses, covering nearly 2,000 years. Amongst them, the first on your right, with the exhibit number 1016, ranks as the most valuable and oldest exhibit in the museum. It is a magnifying glass made in the East Han Dynasty. The materials of the eyeglasses showcased along the wall range from heavy brass and crystal to today’s light non-frame and plexiglass or even contact lenses. The style develops from rope legs to metal legs and plastic legs. What’s more, if I tell you that foldaway eyeglasses had been invented as early as the Yuan Dynasty would you

believe it? It’s true!

Opposite the ancient Chinese eyeglasses, is a large showcase exhibiting Western spectacles. You can also watch the movies on the screen, in which Hercule Poirot and Princess Sissi are teaching you how to use Western-style eyeglasses.

Go forward and stop at a “Show of Optometry Instruments”. It brings you back to a quaint eyeglasses workshop in the 1970s. Here, machines widely used to shave glass and weld metal are on show. Despite their antique style and worn surface, some are still used in factories today.

If fashion intrigues you, you can’t miss Dr. Eyeglasses’ virtual speech “Eyeglasses and Fashion” in the cubicle ahead. Walking out of the cubicle, on either side of the corridor, you can see numerous kinds of high-tech eyeglasses such as Mp3 sunglasses and anti-SARS goggles.

Next, the video embedded in the wall tells you how to make a pair of eyeglasses. From the selection of materials, to the making of legs, and to the assembling of different parts, every procedure takes great effort and skill.

Finally, let’s visit the “Optometry and Optometrical Instruments” section on your left side. Here you see instruments such as a pupillary-height measurement device, pupillometer and a UV lamp for cut tests. Take your time to learn their functions and you’ll be an expert in the field.

You’re finished. That’s the end of today’s tour at the Shanghai Eyeglasses Museum. Buy a reference book for further information about eyes and eyeglasses. We would also be pleased if you left

recommendations or suggestions at the exit that will help us make the museum more enjoyable for others. Thank you for visiting.

Miscellaneous Information

Shanghai Eyeglasses Museum Address: No. 533 Baochang Rd., Zhabei District Opening Hours: 9am—11am, 1:30pm—4pm, every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday. Opening times during holidays can be found on the bulletin of the museum’s website. Admission: 10 yuan for adults; 5 yuan for students with Student Card; free of charge for seniors, army members, the disabled with proper certificates; free of charge for children less than 1.2-meters high;

discounts for group visitors (group visitors need to give advance notice and discounts depend on the size of the group). For more information please contact the museum at: 021-5697-7528

Bus Routes: Bus No. 46, 66, 108, 65, 47, 862, 953, 829 or 823 You can also take Metro Line No. 1 and get off at Zhongshan Rd N. Station or take Metro Line No. 3 or No. 4 and get off at Baoshan Rd Station.

Key Words:

1. Trilobite (n.) a species of extinct anthropod (a category of animal containing insects, arachnids and crustaceans among others) 三叶虫

2. Pinhole imaging (n. phrase) the optical phenomenon in which the image formed on the one side of the screen through a pinhole is inverted from the object on the other side 小孔成像

3. Myopia (n.) near-sightedness 近视

4. Goggles (n.) spectacles worn to protect the eyes.护目镜

5. Plexiglass (n.) a light transparent plastic which can be used to manufacture eyeglasses 树脂玻璃

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