Although the Institute was given its present name only in 1972, astronomical research has been carried out on the site off Madingley Road since the early nineteenth century. It is among the oldest of the scientific research departments of the University. The University Observatory is the imposing building at the top of the drive on the East side of the site, it was completed in 1823 to the designs of J. C. Mead and has been described by the Historical Monuments Commission as "an example of the use of the revived Greek style [of architecture] for a structure intended for scientific purposes”. Of the three pictures held by the Institute the finest is James Pardon’s large portrait of Sir George Biddell Airy (1801–1892), Director of the Observatory and later Astronomer Royal. This dramatic picture was painted in 1833/1834 and rather charmingly depicts his home, the newly built Observatory in the background. The Institute of Astronomy holds public open evenings, please see website for details.