In 2011, Columbia resident Robert Ariail donated his world-class collection of antique telescopes and astronomical instruments to the State Museum. But that is just part of the story. Mr. Ariail gave his collection of rare astronomical texts and other works on paper to the Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina. The combined gift is housed under two roofs, but bears one name: “The Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy.”
featuring the entire collection provides a wonderful resource for all.
The telescopes and instruments total more than 200 objects dating back to 1730. Of the more than 60 telescopes in the group, 23 are fine examples of 19th and early 20th century American-made telescopes. More than half of these were made by Alvan Clark & Sons, makers of some of the finest refracting lenses in the world. This group of American instruments is recognized by the International Antique Telescope Society as the best public collection of American-made telescopes in the world. The telescopes and instruments will be exhibited in a gallery adjacent to the observatory.