Looking Through Time: The Past in 3D - Atlas Obscura

Washington, D.C.

Looking Through Time: The Past in 3D

Take a gander through the lens as we look at the history of stereoscopy.

Visit the Taj Mahal, the canals of Venice, or the tombs of Ramesses in glorious 3D without leaving the comfort of your chair! 

The first stereoscope was built in the 1830s by Charles Wheatstone as a scientific instrument to demonstrate binocular vision. Two decades later, Sir David Brewster introduced and popularized a new model to Queen Victoria at the Great Exhibition in 1851. The craze had begun; for Victorians, stereoscopy became a means of education, travel, and entertainment. Professional and amateur stereographers offered millions of views on every conceivable subject — from landscapes to family portraits.

Situated at the Colony Club, we'll take a tour of the history and evolution of stereoscopy with Dr. Laura Schiavo, Associate Professor of Museum Studies at The George Washington University. Next, we'll be joined by Dr. Jeremy Rowe, scientist, author, and collector, who will share a sample of his vast collection of stereoscopes, stereograph cards, daguerreotypes, and more. 

Want to continue gazing at home? We'll conclude the program with a door prize drawing from Dr. Rowe and the London Stereoscopic Company Ltd.; a 165-year-old company responsible for furnishing most of Europe with stereo views during the late 19th century.


  • This event is accessible via Metro with the venue about a 10-minute walk from the Georgia-Petworth or Columbia Heights Station on the green and yellow lines. 
  • Limited street parking is available. 
  • Photographs are encouraged, but flash photography is not allowed.
  • Each guest will be automatically entered into a raffle to win stereoviewers and antique cards. 


Contact Julie Seigel at julie.seigel@atlasobscura.com.

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