Telescope Quest: Day 18

Marvin Bolt, the Museum’s curator of science and technology, traveled to Europe last fall to research some of the world’s oldest telescopes. Read along to hear about his adventures and discoveries.

Argonauta argo at the Natural History Museum of London.

Argonauta argo at the Natural History Museum
of London.

A last-minute change in a museum calendar opened up time in our schedule to do other work-related tasks. After meeting with a private collector with interests in scientific glass, I met up with Miranda Lowe at London’s Natural History Museum. Miranda curates their Blaschka collection, and meeting with her helped shape some ideas about our own Blaschka exhibition Fragile Legacy.

This collection includes several species that we have displayed, such as the octopus, Argonauta argo.

It is always useful to see multiple examples of the same species, just as it is helpful to see multiple telescopes by the same maker. This example includes blue coloration that, presumably, also decorated our displayed sample, which had been handled extensively or perhaps over-cleaned prior to its arrival at CMoG.

Eucyrtidium cranoides at the Natural History Museum in London.

Eucyrtidium cranoides at the Natural History Museum
of London.

The collection in London also includes numerous radiolarian models, which are not included in our display at CMoG because none were purchased by Cornell University in 1885, and surviving models elsewhere are too fragile to travel. Here, we see one of those spectacular models, an enlargement of Eucyrtidium cranoides.

The visit here, even with just three Blaschka examples on display, demonstrates that a thoughtful, well-lit presentation of these stunning glass models simply takes your breath away. And it reinforces our efforts to work with our photography department at the outset so that our Blaschka models can be shown to their best advantage.

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