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Amsterdam, Netherlands

Stichting Nationaal Brilmuseum

The spectacular history of spectacles on display. 

Ever since the early 19th century, the Theunissen family has had a strange obsession with spectacles and the mark they’ve made in the history of fashion.

Over 35 years ago, the father of the museum’s current owner decided to share his family’s most beloved passion with the public. The National Museum of Spectacles is itself something of a spectacle, fittingly located above an old optician’s office in a building that dates back to the mid-1600s.

The house’s two floors overflow with monocles, lorgnettes, and the once-beloved Roosevelt-style pince-nez. Exhibits detail the 700-year history of eye wear and the role that spectacles have played in art and fashion. Included among the museum’s extensive holdings are the glasses of such bespectacled luminaries as Buddy Holly, John Lennon, Elvis Costello, and Franz Schubert.