Portfolio > Museum of Mesmerism

This theatre was discovered in the back of a tiny puppet and marionette shop in a red light district in the Montmartre area of Paris during my first visit to the city in 1983. Its function was to remotely conjure up and display images of distant places, people, and things. A person would go to the Conjurer for help in “seeing” a specific thing. When properly prompted with information from the client, the Conjurer would search for clues through the special lens of this device, then interpret the visions displayed to reveal information for the client. This was a highly refined art, dependent on a great deal of emotional and psychic sensitivity on the part of the Conjurer.

This theatre held no image when it was found. When it was unpacked at the museum, the image of the marionette shop slowly appeared in the window of the theater, and it has remained there since.

Beverly Rayner, An Illusionist's Portable Conjuring Theatre, Museum of Mesmerism
An illusionist’s portable conjuring theatre
French, circa 1885
Accession No. 2010-83-fr
24” x 11.25” x 9.5”