Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Galileo Museum, Institute of the History of Science

"Philosophy is written in this grand book, the universe, which stands continually open to our gaze. But the book cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and read the letters in which it is composed. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it". Galileo Galilei, 1623 

After the Unification of Italy, the collections were dispersed among several university departments. The state of abandonment of the collections was denounced in 1922 by the promoters of the "Group for the preservation of national scientific heritage. In 1927, thanks to their commitment, the Institute of the History of Sciences was founded, with the aim of collecting, cataloguing and restoring the scientific collections. 

In 1929, the newborn Institute organised in Florence the First National Exhibition of the History of Sciences. Numerous Italian institutions participated in the show, which served to enhance the vast dimension of the scientific heritage, its nation-wide diffusion and its poor state of preservation. after the show, 1930, the University of Florence opened to the public in Palazzo Castellani the permanent exhibition at the Institute of the History of Sciences with annexed Museum, to which the collection to Medici-Lorraine instruments had been conferred. 

80 years after its foundation and after major renovation works, in June 2010 the Instituto e Museo di Storia della Scienze adopted the new name of Museo Galileo. The name draws attention to the extraordinary presence in the collections of the only original instruments of Galileo that have come down to us. Moreover, it emphasises the key role played by the Galilean heritage both in the museum collections and in its research activity. The new exhibition layout places special emphasis on the motivations that included the Medici and the Lorraine to form important collections of scientific instruments, while casting light on the relations between patrons, mathematicians and talented instruments makers that favoured the invention of scientific instruments and their widespread diffusion in the modern epoch. 

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