Wha's like us

K — Kaleidoscope

Photo of a small kaleidoscope

Have a go with this kaleidoscope if you visit the exhibition.


One of the most entrancing of childhood toys was invented by a serious and highly regarded scientist born in Jedburgh, David Brewster (1781-1868).

Brewster's chief research was in the field of optics, but his enduring fame lies with the kaleidoscope — which he named — and a later entertainment, the 3D stereoscope viewer.

The kaleidoscope — a tube containing mirrors and decorative objects rotated by the viewer — became very popular very quickly, but Brewster's patent application came too late for him to make his fortune.

The simple toy was easy to copy, and many others profited from Brewster's 'optical instrument for creating and exhibiting beautiful things'.


An ABC of Scotland

Kaleidoscope was just one of the 'K' topics in our alphabetical exhibition celebrating some of the outstanding achievements by Scotland and Scots.

'Wha's like us?' ran from 13 December 2013 to 18 May 2014.

'L' image



'Wha's like us?' image links


Speak me