Observatory Museum Opens

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Thursday, 12th September 2019

Emily O’Meara in her book, Grahamstown Reflected – calls the “Obs” a “fairy tale house with a magical mirror”…..”a time machine, an eye in the sky”……”Just a small dark room at the top of the spiral stairs until the guide pulls a rope, the turret turns, and off you fly”.

This once unusual home and business premises of Henry Carter Galpin, a jeweller and clockmaker, is truly magical and full of interesting surprises on every floor. The biggest surprise is the Victorian Camera Obscura on the roof which allows you to see a 360 degree view of Makhanda reflected on a large round table!

Besides the Camera Obscura, this museum is also linked with the testing and authentication of the first diamond, the Eureka, to be discovered near Kimberley, in 1867. This diamond started Kimberley’s “Big Hole” diggings and ultimately South Africa’s multi-million Dollar diamond industry.

As a clockmaker Galpin was fascinated with time and built the Meridian Room where he could define the precise time of local noon which is actually 14 minutes behind South African standard time.

Visitors and tourists from all over our country and the world, come to see this wonderful building and its displays; which further enhance Makhanda as a city of significant historical and cultural interest.

Makana Tourism congratulates the Department of Public Works and the Albany Museum on this latest refurbishment of the Observatory Museum and welcomes the reopening of our city's iconic landmark.



Photo courtesy of Albany Museum: Guests at reopening on 5 September, 2019, with Revd Linda Dyani (Albany Museum, 3rd from left) and Mrs Fleur Way-Jones (the event's guest speaker and local tour guide, 5th from left).

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