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A rendering of the new Library/Collections Center

A rendering of the new Library/Collections Center near where it will be built, west of the Hendricks Center for Planetary Studies

Lowell Observatory Announces Library/Collections Center Capital Campaign

Lowell Observatory recently announced plans for a new Library and Collections Center which will house the Observatory's extensive historical collections and provide much-needed library and office space for its growing science and support staff. To make this critical facility a reality, a public capital campaign was launched this month. More than $2,000,000 of the $3,000,000 campaign target has already been raised. Included in this goal is an endowment to support the maintenance and repair of the facility in perpetuity. Depending upon the success of this capital campaign, construction could begin as soon as Spring 2013. The planned location is near the Hendricks Planetary Science Building on Mars Hill.

Founded in 1894, and rich with groundbreaking astronomical history, the Observatory now keeps 118 years of priceless artifacts on Mars Hill, including one of the 1930 Pluto discovery plates and 32,000 other glass plate photographic images of the night sky. The collections also include more than 600 historic astronomical instruments including the spectrograph used in 1912 by V.M. Slipher to observe the first evidence of the expanding Universe via the world-famous Clark Telescope, which arrived at the Observatory in 1896.

In addition, the collections include: the influential papers of founder and Mars researcher Percival Lowell and of other renowned astronomers of the Observatory; Percival Lowell's personal library; astronomers' observation log books; rare books and publications; star atlases; and record drawings of historical telescopes and building facilities. The Observatory is indeed fortunate that generations of staff have saved and stored these documents and artifacts to provide future generations with the opportunity to understand the labors and lives of those who have worked on Mars Hill.

"The collections' documents and artifacts, now stored in several different locations at the Mars Hill campus, will be consolidated in the repository of the new Collections Center Building," says Lauren Amundson, Lowell's librarian and archivist. "The collections' storage area, with its temperature and humidity controls and fire-suppression system will provide a central, environmentally stable and physically secure space for our fragile and unique collections. A secure document and artifacts processing area and reading room will also be provided."

The new building's lobby will house "Big Red," Percival Lowell's 1911 Stevens Duryea touring car, as well as rotating exhibits of historical astronomical equipment. This lobby space will accommodate up to 30 visitors, have visual access into the collection repository, and will serve as a tour stop for the Observatory's public programs. "The Collections Center will help us preserve and protect Lowell's rich history and give the public a glimpse of some of the amazing items we have in the archives," says Amundson.

To view a standard-definition video about the project, click here.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Antoinette Beiser, Major Gifts Officer, at (928) 255-0186 or

 Support the Collections Center

Help house Lowell Observatory’s extensive historical collections and provide much-needed library and office space for our growing science and support staff.

Donate by Check or Money Order

Send your donations to Antoinette Beiser, Major Gifts Officer, Lowell Observatory, 1400 W. Mars Hill Rd., Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Donate by Phone

Call us at (928) 255-0186.

 V.M. Slipher Podcast

The following podcast highlights the critical history that will be preserved in our new Collections Center. Listen to leading researchers, historians and authors discuss and celebrate the centennial of Lowell legend V.M. Slipher's first evidence of the expanding universe, and the related work of other luminaries at the "Origins of the Expanding Universe: 1912-1932" conference held in Flagstaff in September, 2012.

Podcast funded by a generous gift from Sue Durling.

Slipher Conference Podcast
(21 minutes. Click link to begin audio. Player will appear below).