When Nick Dalacu was a 17-year-old physics student at Bucharest University, he began experimenting with scientific equipment. Nicks life as a “hands-on physicist” began at that time and will continue as such to the end. “Collecting has been my lifelong obsession,” says Dalacu, now 70. Dalacu has made good on that lifelong obsession in his Niagara Science Museum, located in the former National Carbon office building of Union Carbide, where he displays his collection of many thousands of beautiful antique science instruments.
Among more than twenty rooms, the museum presents its artefacts-antique science instruments and philosophical apparatus in recreated “old fashion” functional laboratories. It contains a recreated 1930s medical office, a galvanometer collection, a collection of antique optical instruments, microscopes, and radios, and - most intriguing of all - a high-voltage laboratory. Almost everything in the museum has been restored to working order and is used for demonstrations once in a while.
Part of the motive behind the museum was to display the items in a “Wunderkammer” style, grouped by aesthetic and curiosity, and eschewing the info-graphic, interactivity-heavy style of most modern museums. The aim of the museum is to evoke the same “sense of awe and discovery” that the great cabinets of wonder once did.
This does not mean the museum isn’t modern; in fact, the museum is entirely powered by solar panels produced by Dalacu’s current company. The museum isn’t just a showcase of antique science equipment either: one can buy anything from a used Flammable Cabinet to an Antique Vacuum Chamber from the museum’s online store at http://www.scienceline.net/index.php/cPath/54.
Obscura Day location: April 9, 2011.
Update: The museum is no longer open. It was boarded up as of 12/27/16.