College of Science & Engineering

Symmetries in Light

view through kaleidoscope

On the 200th anniversary of its invention, this exhibition brings together the art of the kaleidoscope with the science of one of Scotland's great innovators - David Brewster: Principal of the University of Edinburgh, 1859-1868.

Featuring examples of different shapes and styles, including rare and vintage items from overseas, the exhibition at the Playfair Library seeks to illustrate the impact of Brewster’s work in optics on science and society.


The exhibition is free and open to the public as a drop-in activity - so there is no need to book. It runs from Sunday 3rd April to Sunday 10th April (closed Wednesday 6th April). Featuring kaleidoscopes of all shapes and styles, including a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore some of the many award-winning contemporary pieces brought over to the UK from the Japan Kaleidoscope Museum.

Kaleidoscope examples
Yes, these are ALL Kaleidoscopes
Opening times for exhibition
Sunday 3rd April 12-4pm                                     free                                                         
Monday 4th - Tuesday 5th April 10am-4pm free
Wednesday 6th April Closed Closed
Thursday 7th April 12-4pm free
Friday 8th April - Saturday 9th April 10am-4pm free
Sunday 10th April 10am-3pm free

Kaleidoscope workshop

The accompanying kaleidoscope workshops will enable visitors to explore colour, shape and light. Those taking part can find out more about how a kaleidoscope works and build a working kaleidoscope to take home. An ideal family event for the Easter holidays (age range 6+).

Workshop dates
Monday 4th April 11am & 2pm £5 per workshop
Thursday 7th April 11am & 2pm £5 per workshop
Saturday 9th April 11am & 2pm £5 per workshop

Tickets can be purchased via the Edinburgh International Science Festival website and cost £5 per workshop.

Lecture: The Life and Work of David Brewster

Invented 200 years ago by Scottish scientist Sir David Brewster, the kaleidoscope was one of the must have toys of the 1800's and this fascinating gadget is still popular today. Join us to learn about the life and work of Sir Brewster, one of the founding figures in physics in the mid nineteenth century, and find out why his discoveries are still relevant today.

Lecture information
Friday 8th April 6pm - 7pm £5                       

Tickets can be purchased via the Edinburgh International Science Festival website and cost £5.



Symmetries in Light

An international exhibition by the Japan Kaleidoscope Museum and The Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews celebrating the life and work of David Brewster.

The Playfair Library
Old College
South Bridge