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Grant number like: RZ-51106-09

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Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY 14830-2253)
Marvin Paul Bolt (Project Director: November 2008 to May 2018)

Collaborative Research
Research Programs

$220,000 (approved)
$220,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2009 – 6/30/2016

The Wider Scope: A Survey of Early Telescopes and Images, and their Scientific and Cultural Contexts

Expansion of an electronic research database on the history of the telescope to include literary and art-historical materials as well as examples from Asian collections.

The United Nations' declaration of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 to mark Galileo's use of the telescope signifies the extraordinary impact of the telescope on the sciences and the humanities. The observations it enabled transformed our cosmology and raised awkward questions about our place in the universe. As well as informing astronomy, theology, and philosophy, it inspired the literary and visual arts, and impacted military and maritime practices by changing the conduct of war and the practice of navigation. Telescopes were also objets d'art, intended to be looked at as much as looked through, to be displayed as a symbol of knowledge, patronage, and status. Through collaborations with museums and scholars around the world, we will create a census of surviving telescopes and telescope images made prior to 1750, photograph and catalog them, determine their optical and physical properties, and disseminate this information via a database on a museum website.