British Optical Association
The British Optical Association (BOA) was founded in 1895 as the first professional body for ophthalmic opticians (optometrists) in the world. It ran the first professional examinations in optics and provided the Secretariat for a number of other optical bodies including what would eventually become the Association of Optometrists and the World Council of Optometry. In 1980, the BOA joined forces with the Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers and the Scottish Association of Opticians (now disbanded) to found the British College of Ophthalmic Opticians (known since 1996 as The College of Optometrists).
British Optical Association Museum
The British Optical Association Museum was founded in London by John H. Sutcliffe OBE in 1901 as a collection of historic spectacles and visual aids designed to illustrate the development of corrective eyewear. It subsequently expanded its collecting activities to encompass ophthalmic instrumentation and the depiction of optometric subject matter in works of art such as paintings, prints and sculpture. With over 10,000 catalogued objects it may be judged one of the most comprehensive and high quality collections of its type. Many of its objects are rare survivals and several are unique.
The BOA Museum provides a heritage service to the College, the WCSM and the wider optical professions. The public may visit the exhibition rooms (the Sutcliffe Room and Giles Room) by prior appointment or pay for a guided tour of the College meeting rooms in which various exhibits are displayed. Museum staff are available to give external lectures and objects are frequently lent to temporary exhibitions at other accredited museums in the UK and occasionally overseas. The museum is a member of the London Museums of Health & Medicine.
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