Magdeburg Hemispheres


Otto Von Guericke (1602-1686), the scientifically-minded mayor of Magdeburg, demonstrated the effects of a vacuum and of atmospheric pressure by joining one hollow hemisphere with another, evacuating the air between the two, and showing how hard it then was to pull the two apart. In time, Magdeburg hemispheres became popular pieces of scientific apparatus.

This unsigned example was used at St. Joseph's College, in Emmitsburg, Md. Established by Elizabeth Ann Seaton, shortly after her arrival at Emmitsburg in 1809, this was the first free parochial school for girls in the United States.

Ref: Benjamin Pike, Jr. Illustrated Descriptive Catalogue of Optical, Mathematical, and Philosophical Instruments (New York, 1856), vol. 1, p. 204

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: St. Joseph's College

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: PH.325784Catalog Number: 325784Accession Number: 257689

Object Name: Magdeburg Hemispheres

Measurements: overall: 13 cm x 6.5 cm; 5 1/8 in x 2 9/16 inoverall: 5 in x 2 9/16 in; 12.7 cm x 6.50875 cm


Record Id: nmah_1184140

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.