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Museums

Portrait of a Mathematician

The label identifies this painting as a portrait of Pierre Joseph de Rivaz, an 18th-century “Swiss mathematician, inventor and historian.” Rivaz is not particularly famous, and seems to be better known for his inventions than his mathematical achievements. Nonetheless, the label claims this is a “Portrait of a Mathematician.” Although there seems to be some […]

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Museums

The Byzantine Astrolabe

I can’t reconstruct how I came across this page, but now that I have I can’t let it go without some comment. A search for the pair of terms “Brescia astrolabe” or “Byzantine astrolabe” gives as the second result a link to a Wikimedia page, Byzantine astrolabe at Brescia, 5th century AD (reconstruction).jpg A quick […]

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Museums

Museums and the Future

In a recent opinion piece in the NY Times, Museums Need to Step Into the Future, Darren Walker calls for museums to embrace a new and more diverse society, to relinquish their role as “guardians of a fading social and demographic order.” Instead, he believes, “museums have the responsibility to hold a mirror up to […]

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Museums

Baroque Sundials in Austria

As recent posts suggest, I spent the last month working in Central Europe. Here are a couple photos of sundials that can be found on many of the buildings in Austria. At the monastery in Klosterneuburg there is, apparently, a pole-style sundial dating from the mid-fifteenth century. Another sundial from the late sixteenth century adorns […]

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Museums

Astronomical Museum in Eger

The northern Hungarian town of Eger is famous amongst Hungarians as the place where István Dobó defeated the invading Ottoman forces in 1552. For historians of science, Eger is interesting for its Esterhazy Károly College. Originally Bishop Eszterhazy had hoped to establish a university in Eger, but he was unable to secure approval from the […]

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Museums

Plague Columns in Central Europe

Plague columns, or Marian and Holy Trinity columns, dot Central Europe—partial lists can be found on the German wikipedia pages for Pestsäule and Mariensäule. These columns were often three sided to represent the Holy Trinity, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and decorated with various saints. Wealthy citizens, fraternities, and even emperors commissioned and erected plague […]

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Museums

Observatories at Vassar College

While at Vassar College this past weekend for the workshop on “STS in the Liberal Arts Curriculum,” I couldn’t resist having a look at the college’s two observatories.1 The original observatory, the Maria Mitchell Observatory. Completed in 1865, this was the first building to be completed at Vassar. It is named after the famous 19th-century […]

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Museums

Video Game Museums Abound, and Falter

The BBC’s coverage of the Museum *of Soviet* Arcade Machines has been attracting considerable attention recently. The Museum *of Soviet* Arcade Machines joins a number of other video game museums (most of which seem to be struggling to survive), including: The International Arcade Museum—which claims to be the world’s largest. The American Classic Arcade Museum. […]