Large telescope in a warehouse

The Great Melbourne Telescope Restoration Project

Help us restore one of history’s most significant scientific objects and inspire STEM learning for generations to come.​


Restoring an icon of technology to inspire the innovators of tomorrow.

By the time it arrived at the Melbourne Observatory in 1869, the Great Melbourne Telescope was already recognised as one of the most advanced scientific instruments of its time.

The world’s first large, fully steerable telescope, the Great Melbourne Telescope remained an important contributor to astronomical science during the more than 130 years of its operating life.

When the Melbourne Observatory closed in 1944, the Telescope moved to Mount Stromlo, Canberra. Sadly, it sustained significant damage during the firestorm that swept through Canberra and its surrounds in 2003. The damaged Telescope was brought back to Melbourne and entrusted to the care of Museums Victoria.

Now – more than 150 years after it first gazed upon the stars – we are restoring this extraordinary icon of Australia’s scientific heritage to full working order. The Great Melbourne Telescope restoration project is defined by its ambition, scale and extraordinary significance. Generous philanthropic and government support from Creative Victoria, The Copland Foundation, The Myer Foundation, The Ian Potter Foundation, The King Family Foundation and H V McKay Charitable Trust, and more than 60,000 volunteer hours have seen the Telescope’s structure repaired and reassembled, including the exacting fabrication of the more than 1,000 replacement parts needed.

The last stage of the restoration will be the dynamic activation of the Telescope, including the integration of a modern optical system. Once complete, the majestic Great Melbourne Telescope will be equipped to once again explore the wonders of the southern skies.

the moon, taken with the Great Melbourne Telescope in 1875.
Moon, taken with the Great Melbourne Telescope, 1875.

The Great Melbourne Telescope restoration is a joint venture partnership of Museums Victoria, the Astronomical Society of Victoria Inc., and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

Donate and support

Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible.

If you would like to learn more about our projects, please contact the Museums Victoria Development Team on +61 (0) 435 174 216 or email [email protected].

Support the Great Melbourne Telescope while enjoying exclusive access to the world of our museums by becoming a Director's Circle Patron.

Join the mailing list and get the latest from our Museums direct to your inbox.

Share your thoughts to WIN

We'd love to hear about your experience with our website. Our survey takes less than 10 minutes and entries go in a draw to win a $100 gift voucher at our online store!