Curious Ways to Measure the Weather

August 11 – October 3, 2017

Although weather forecasting and meteorology has been around for millennia, it was popularized in the 18th century during the age of Enlightenment, as observers began obsessively measuring and recording the weather in an attempt to understand it.  Since then, we have continued to discover and invent new ways to predict the weather, some more accurate than others.

This exhibit features fun and simple objects used to predict, forecast, and measure the weather. Some are rooted in scientific principals (like the Galileo thermometer or the glass mariner barometer), and others in old proverbs and folklore (like the weather stick and the Farmer’s Almanacs).

Some weather widgets like the pinwheel and windsock are actually quite reliable in determining wind speed and direction.  Others are no longer dependable and are best used as novelty or gag gifts, such as the novelty postcards from the early 20th century reproduced in this exhibit.

Even with access to the newest satellites and the latest technology, accurate weather forecasting is still a distant dream.  Despite this, there is still a deep pleasure in observing and measuring daily weather patterns and inventing different ways to predict what is to come.  If we can’t predict the weather perfectly, at least we can have fun trying!