Self-Guided Tour

It is recommended to begin the tour in the 3rd Floor Lobby of the Meinel building, then take the elevator up to the 8th floor. Proceed with the tour by circling down via the stairwell or using the elevator until you return to the 3rd floor, completing the tour.


Your tour starts right here in the lobby of the Meinel Building where you will find the breathtaking Desert Flower and Glass Sphere sculptures.
The lobby displays provide a hint to the variety of optical instruments displayed throughout the building. Highlights include the enormous wooden telescope barrel from 1850, and a large studio camera from 1907.
While in the lobby, be sure to look up at the spectacular light shaft that penetrates the entire height of the building. The architectural use of light creates the close relationship between the building and the Wyant College of Optical Sciences.
Your next stop is the top — take the main elevator to the 8th floor, and then work your way back down.


The floor-to-ceiling windows place you right on top of the UA Mall and offers some of the best views on campus. From the open-air patio, you can see the city of Tucson sprawl north toward the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Microscopes decorate the windowsills peeking into the Peter A. Franken Conference Room.
If you are adventuresome, take the stairway located in a second light shaft down to the 7th floor.


Many of the museum’s signature antiques fill cabinets along the walls and in the bridge between the buildings. Just outside Room 747 are telescopes dating from the early 1700s. These telescopes use highly decorated rolled paper tubes and come from Italy, Germany and England.
Portraits of OSC’s illustrious leaders, including founding director and building namesake Aden B. Meinel, greet you just outside the elevator.
Most of the museum’s signature antiques fill cabinets along the walls, and a mid-20th-century military periscope provides incredible views from the breezeway.


In these cases, you’ll find a cache of optical instruments such as cameras, binoculars, sextants, magic lanterns and military optics, including WWI trench periscopes.
You’ll also find framed panels dedicated to Nicolaas Bloembergen, one of three OSC faculty members to have won a Nobel Prize.


A colorful two-story tall mural by Don Cowen is illuminated by the third large light shaft, and nearby is a prism spectrometer. Next to the elevator you’ll find an interactive, educational touch screen. Additional antiques await on the breezeway.


You’ll finish up on the ground floor, overlooking the lobby. Keep an eye out for cabinets filled with cameras and microscopes, and find more historical pieces outside the Hopf Reading Room.
Prospective students are encouraged to visit the Academic Programs office in Meinel 403.