Spot of the week

The Observatory Museum is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Grahamstown’s past. The museum is situated in Bathurst Street, a mere 15 minute walk from the arch.

The Observatory is a multi-storeyed nineteenth century Victorian shop and home. It has exhibitions on Victorian life and events that took place on site, as well as the eccentricities of the man who once lived there. The owner and designer of the Observatory, Henry Cater Gaplin, had an avid interest in astronomy, optics, natural history, music and practical mechanics and these interests are reflected in the unique and fascinating exhibits.

South Africa’s first diamond was verified at the museum. It is also home to the only Victorian Camera Obscura, one of the first cameras produced. Other attractions at the Observatory include the Meridian Room, a place from which astronomical time and Grahamstown’s mean time can be calculated, as well as Gaplin’s original telescope.

The Camera Obscura is a must-see. The camera uses sunlight, an angled mirror and convex lens to project a miniature image of the scene outside onto a flat circular surface. It enables you to see a 360 degree live image of Grahamstown. For R5 you can climb the spiral staircase to the dark room of the Observatory for an amazing 15 minute exhibition of the device in action. If you are looking to see Grahamstown in a day visit the Observatory Museum.  

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