Wondrous Devices: Astronomical Instruments and Teaching Tools of the Victorian Era — An Exhibition

Precision-made instruments are an essential part of scientific inquiry and discovery. The astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts of the late 19th century created tools and teaching aids that were highly sophisticated, thereby bringing the wonders of scientific discovery to the public.

The objects on view in Wondrous Devices are representative of the expert and amateur advancements that occurred during the Victorian era. Among them you will find a widely-used astronomy textbook, published and illustrated by a New England school teacher; an astronomical balance, invented by a French watchmaker; and a spectroscope, created by an American family of telescope-makers. All are indicative of the cutting-edge work of 19th-century astronomy.

These astronomical instruments and teachings tools, many of which are on loan from the Hastings Historical Society and Tesseract Early Scientific Instruments Inc. of Hastings-on-Hudson, are notable not just for the quality of their construction, but also for their distinctly Victorian aesthetic, such as hand-engraved trademarks, floral decorative elements, and polished elements of brass—the preferred precision metal of the time.

Wondrous Devices complements the special exhibition Neo-Victorians: Contemporary Artists Revive Gilded-Age Glamour, and the new, original Planetarium Show, The Victorian’s Guide to the Galaxy, which further explores what 19th-century scientists understood about the universe and developments in the field of astronomy at the time.

Image Credit: Mattison, Hiram, and Elijah H. Burritt. Atlas designed to illustrate Burritt’s Geography of the heavens (detail). [New York: Sheldon, 1856] Map. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/77370907/.

Event Location and Ticket Information

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hudson river museum
511 Warburton Ave.
Yonkers, NY 10701
Handicap Accessible? Yes

Date: Saturday, March 3, 2018
Times: 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Ticket pricing:
Free event

Presenter: Hudson River Museum
Presenter Phone: 9149634550
Presenter Website: www.hrm.org