The Society was formed with the specific purpose of preserving the history of the Magic Lantern. Many of the members have superior knowledge, collections, and talent. Sharing those traits with other members is necessary to achieve the Society’s purpose.
With a membership spread across the continent and around the world, we have used biennial conventions to provide the opportunity to learn, to share, to see first hand what others are doing to promote their hobby, to meet and put a face to a name, and perhaps, to show off a collection or put on a show before an extremely friendly audience. Conventions also provide the opportunity to visit a new city, but most of all, they are an opportunity to learn and to have fun.
Cities are chosen on a rotating basis; east, central, west, so travel costs do not become a burden to the same members. Since 1981, there have been 15 conventions. We have visited the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, NY; and ridden a barge in San Antonio and visited the Magic Lantern Castle Museum there. We have seen a magic lantern show on a ferry in San Diego; visited the famed Magic Castle in Hollywood; been to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.; and even ridden Lolly the Trolley in Cleveland, and toured Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.
Attendance varies but is generally about 60 to 70. Each convention will have 10 to 15 presentations by members. Some are historical, some musical, some educational, some on the latest research, and some strictly humorous. Sales tables are provided for those members wanting to thin their collection—an opportunity for other members to add to theirs. Treasures can be found in the auction—always an exciting highlight. The conventions conclude with a business meeting to elect new officers and conduct the Society’s business.
Eating is an important part of the convention. Lunches are usually included and a grand banquet precedes one evening’s entertainment. We have often been fortunate in past years to include a lantern show by the American Magic Lantern Theater.
Watch this site for information about the next convention.
Some Past Events
May 20-23, 2010
June 21-24, 2012
July 11-13, 2014
We had a great convention in Boston, at Dick Balzer’s Carriage House Museum.
There was a varied and interesting presentations, both shows and scholarly lectures, about lanterns, panoramas and other visual entertainment mediums, new and old.
17th Convention 2016, New Orleans, LA
October 6-9, 2016
University of New Orleans Nims Center for Entertainment Arts
The Collection includes magic lanterns, glass lantern slides, optical toys, early Edison projectors from the mid 1800’s through the early 1900’s.