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Ariail Collection Of Historical Astronomy

The South Carolina State Museum is home to an incredibly rare collection of American made telescopes and astronomical equipment, donated to the museum by amateur astronomer Robert B. Ariail. Many of these amazing instruments are now on exhibit in The State Museum’s 6,000 sq. ft. telescope gallery.


“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

Robert B. Ariail, an amateur astronomer from Columbia, donated a remarkable collection of telescopes to the State Museum, the oldest dating to 1730. This incredibly rare collection, praised by the Antique Telescope Society, features the largest collection of early American Telescopes anywhere. The collection features the oldest surviving American-made observatory instrument, which was delivered in 1849 to Erskine College in Due West, SC.

Thanks to a partnership with University of South Carolina Libraries Digital Collections, many of these instruments can be found online.

Click HERE to explore the collection.