Telescope Gallery

The Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy

“I get great pleasure out of knowing that the telescope collection will be preserved and will be available for all to enjoy for years into the future.” – Robert B. Ariail


  • Invaluable research collection

  • Oldest telescope in collection dating to 1730

  • A truly unique learning experience for thousands of visitors

• Robert B. Ariail, a local amateur astronomer, donated a priceless collection of telescopes, the oldest dating to 1730.
• This incredibly rare collection, praised by the Antique Telescope Society, features the largest public collection of early American made telescopes in the world.
• The collection features the oldest surviving Americanmade observatory instrument, which was delivered in 1849 to Erskine College in Due West, S.C. and will be part of a 6,000 square foot exhibition.
• Taken together, these elements of the Windows to New Worlds project not only will support remarkable opportunities for teaching and learning for South Carolina’s students and educators, but also will attract astronomy experts from around the world to the museum for research, study and conferences.
• Guests will also see Fire in the Sky, by South Carolina artist, Clay Rice. This large scale silhouette illustrates the Leonid meteor shower, one of the largest meteor showers in human history and one of the pivotal moments that began the serious study of meteors. This commission art work was funded in part by the South Carolina Arts Commission, which receives funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.