Thursday, August 18, 2011

Day 147: Fun Fact Friday - A Brief History of Funhouse Mirrors

How many mirrors are in your home?  Mine has seven (though most are covered!).  Imagine having THREE HUNDRED & FIFTY SEVEN mirrors in just one room of your home!  Well... that is exactly what you will find in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles near Paris.

Overlooking the Versailles Park near Paris, the Hall of Mirrors is the biggest room in the Palace of Versailles at 73m long, 10m wide, and 12m high.   The Hall of Mirrors owes its name to the seventeen mirrored arches facing seventeen windows overlooking the Versailles Park.  Each arch contains 21 mirrors adding up to a total of 357.  While sometimes referred to as Venetian glass mirrors, these large mirrors were made in a Paris factory that was founded to compete with Venetian glass factories.  Both mirrors and glass were exorbitantly expensive in the 17th century.  With some reports suggesting that the cost of ONE Venetian mirror was comparable to the cost of a large naval ship.  Yowza!
Image found here.
Now here's another fun fact: the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles is credited for inspiring those carnival monstrosities we call funhouses (maybe not so fun for me!), which typically contain a "Halls of Mirrors" or are even called "Houses of Mirrors".  Perhaps the most famous  of these was commissioned by Peter Stuyvesant, the governor of "New Amsterdam" (aka, New York!), who came across the hall of mirrors in the Palace of Versailles and was completely amazed by it.  He vowed to bring the attraction back to America. He did just that, and his House of Mirrors opened in 1651.  Commoners who wanted to enter this maze of mirrors were charged one Dutch gulden for the privilege.

(This Fun Fact Friday was informed by A Brief History of MirrorsExclusive Mirrors, and wikipedia!)

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  1. I swear my bedroom mirror is a funhouse mirror. There is no way my legs look that weird! I love looking at my legs now that I have started martial arts. They are lean(ish), strong, tattooed and lovely, but in the mirror, they look squat and stumpy. If I had more courage, I would try no mirrors, but I will just cut back to a couple times a day to make sure I don't have anything hanging out of my nose or something.
    You are awesome and your story is inspiring.
    Thank you.

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  4. Wow! I didn't know that!
    I've came across this site which researching for a uni psychopathology class - we've been developing a project on the notion of mirror as a metaphor for mental disorder and we've visited a mirror house - doubling and tripling our own images - to gain some experiences and inspirations.

    It's valuable piece of information to know what was the context of halls of mirrors' birth. Now I think that pivotal point is why someone thought in the first place to make an interior filled with mirrors only, I mean - why someone thought that it would be an interesting, mesmerizing idea (or - frightening for that matter)!

    Thanks for this info!

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