SFO Museum focuses on ‘Antique Scientific Instruments’
When modern science emerged in the 17th century, scientists invented specialized instruments to explore the world and universe in a closer, more logical manner. These intriguing devices facilitated the careful study of almost all facets of life through research and demonstration of ideas and theories. In 1609, Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) improved the telescope, a Dutch invention from the year prior. Galilei’s observations solidified the earlier work of Polish astronomer and mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543), who theorized that the sun was the center of the universe, not the earth. English mathematician, astronomer, and physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) is best known for his founding principles of modern physics. Using a combination of lenses and mirrors, Newton also invented a reflecting telescope in 1668, and astronomers still employ his basic design to see into the outer reaches of space.
During the 19th century, new technologies allowed for precision manufacturing of scientific instruments. An array of devices assisted some of the most brilliant minds on earth as scientists discovered progressive subjects such as electrodynamics and atomic theory. The practical application of electricity was a triumph of the second half of the century and sparked major advances in science and industry. Even the word “scientist” was coined during this breakthrough era, when English philosopher William Whewell (1794–1866) defined a scientist as someone who was professionally engaged in any of the scientific fields. Science became a popular recreational subject as well in the mid-19th century. Specialty magazines such as Scientific American began publication, encyclopedias included scientific definitions, companies sold entry-level microscopes for the home and hobbyist, and researchers held public lectures on many different aspects of science. This exhibition features a selection of mid-19th to early-20th-century instruments from a variety of scientific fields.
Curiosity & Discovery: Antique Scientific Instruments is located post-security in Harvey Milk Terminal 1 of the San Francisco International Airport. The exhibition is accessible until April 3, 2022 to ticketed passengers and by prior arrangement by emailing email@example.com.
Special thanks to Mark McElyea for making this exhibition possible.
About SFO Museum
Established in 1980 by the Airport Commission, SFO Museum’s mission is to delight, engage, and inspire a global audience with programming on a broad range of subjects; to collect, preserve, interpret, and share the history of commercial aviation; and to enrich the public experience at San Francisco International Airport. The museum has been accredited by the American Alliance of Museums since 1999 and retains the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport. Today, SFO Museum features 25 galleries throughout the airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, which houses a permanent collection of more than 140,000 objects related to the history of commercial aviation. To browse current and past exhibitions, research our collection, or for more information, please visit www.sfomuseum.org. Follow us on www.facebook.com/sfomuseum, www.twitter.com/sfomuseum, or www.instagram.com/sfomuseum.