Norwich University Museum Presents a Gallery Talk on Russell Porter and His Garden Telescope


October 5, 2018

Norwich University’s Sullivan Museum and History Center presents “Russell W. Porter: A Legacy of Innovation,” a gallery talk about a Norwich alum known as the founder of amateur telescope-making. Matt Considine, member of The Springfield Telescope Makers, founded by Russell Porter (NU1891, H 1946), is the featured presenter on Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 11 a.m.

Porter (pictured) was an American artist, engineer, amateur astronomer and Arctic explorer. He studied engineering at Norwich University from 1889-1890 and graduated from the Vermont Academy in 1891. He attended the University of Vermont and later studied architecture and art at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His interruptions in educational study were due to his passion for arctic explorations.  Porter traveled on various artic explorations from 1892 to 1903.  He was a pioneer in the field of “cutaway illustration” and is sometimes referred to as the “founder” of amateur telescope making.

Porter’s arctic exploration and his work as an artist will be examined including how these two experiences influenced his work in Springfield. His work ultimately later contributed to the field of astronomy in California and with the Hale telescope.

Porter’s Garden Telescope, on view in the current exhibition is a skillful blending of art and science. The telescope has a six-inch f/4 Newtonian reflector cast in solid statuary bronze which also functions as a sundial in addition to an elegant example of garden furniture. The Garden Telescope in the gallery is a No. 2 model and is the earliest known to exist. Considine will discuss the Garden Telescope and its contribution to the creation of the 200-inch Hale Telescope in California.

The gallery talk is presented in conjunction with “Innovators of Norwich: Building a Nation,” the second exhibition in a two-part series that features many innovative contributions made to the world by Norwich alumni.

About Norwich University˜

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) 

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