The Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy (AIRA) holds a cultural patrimony represented by historical buildings, preserved scientific instruments and different types of documents from the printed ones to photographic glass plaques. Some of them, are recorded and classed as “Treasure” in the national cultural patrimony of Romania. Most of these instruments are still installed in the initial locations where they functioned but others where relocated to serve their new purpose as museum items. If the Meridian Circle, an impressing Gautier-Prin refracting telescope, can be found in the same place where it was installed in 1926 and used ever since, that is in the Meridian Hall, the Leroy and Riefler fundamental pendulums were brought from a different area of the Observatory’s building and displayed in this hall.
Today, some of these messengers from our scientific past form a permanent exhibition in the Meridian Hall. Since its construction in 1912, the hall was a scientific facility where the Romanian scientists coordinated by Nicolae Coculescu installed some of the most advanced telescopes and scientific instruments of the time. An example in this respect is the Meridian Circle, a refracting telescope which had a state of the art optics and mechanics in 1926 when it started its service, being configured with a lot of care for details in Romania and finally ordered to be constructed in France.
A big part of the activities accomplished by the powerful astrometry division at the Bucharest Observatory, took place in the Meridian Hall. During the World War Two, this whole research dynamics was greatly affected but it never stopped. In those difficult circumstances, the directors of the Observatory decided to partially dismantle and shelter the scientific instruments.
The scientific work of several generations of astronomers continued in the Meridian Hall up to 1990. Since then, it became a permanent exhibition which is aimed to be the core of an astronomy museum. The permanent exhibition organized here currently displays several telescopes from the XXst C., precision instruments for the creation, measurement, verifying, recording and keeping the time information, mechanical calculating machines and one of the first Romanian electronic computers which were used in the astronomical calculus, and other objects related to the pathway of Romanian astronomy through the history of science.
The permanent exhibition at the Astronomical Institute of the Romanian Academy can be visited by organized groups which need to book their visit and respect the law of Romania regarding research institutions.
Meridian Circle, Gautier-Prin Refracting Telescope (1926)
Detail into the original architectural plans of Bucharest Observatory, Adolphe Engels - 1908
Mecanical and electronic computers joined in the exhibition by an old typewrintting machine