Museo Galileo - Institute and Museum of the History of Science
The Museo Galileo, founded in 1927, is one of the foremost international institutions in the History of Science, combining a noted museum of scientific instruments and an institute dedicated to the research, documentation and dissemination of the history of science in the broadest senses.
The museum, the specialized library, the archives, the multimedia, photographic and restoration laboratories provide an integrated whole in the service of disseminating scientific culture, capitalizing on Italy's technical/scientific heritage, while continuously updating research in the history of science and technology.
The Museum is open every day (including Sundays and holidays) except on 1 January and 25 December (Monday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. // Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.).
The library and the archive are open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. No appointment required.
The Museo Galileo is home of the Medici-Lorraine instrument collections which include those scientific instruments and experimental devices collected over the centuries by the two Tuscan dynasties.
The museum exhibition occupies two entire floors of the Palazzo Castellani, a historical building in the centre of Florence. The first floor is devoted to the Medici Collections, dating from the 15th century through the 18th century and including Galileo's telescopes and objective lens, Cimento Academy's thermometers and glassware, terrestrial and celestial globes and so on. The second floor houses the Lorraine collections, mainly devoted to electricity, electromagnetism and chemistry.
Items of note to researchers studying history of medicine are: some pharmacy jars of the 18th and 19th centuries, some portable pharmacies (wooden boxes containing some surgical instruments and the substances needed for pharmaceutical therapy), many surgical instrument kits designed by Giovanni Alessandro Brambilla, some wax and terracotta obstetric models of the last quarter of the 18th century. Moreover the Museo Galileo deposits house many 19th-20th century surgical instruments and a wide collection of portrait medals, mostly related to past physicians.
The Museo Galileo Library houses about 150,000 works concerning the history of science.
The antique book collection, consisting of nearly 5,000 works, is supplemented by several 19th-20th century collections as well as a contemporary collection which has an annual growth of about 1,800 new acquisitions.
Even though the book collections are mostly concerning the physico-mathematical sciences and the chemistry, the library houses also some holdings of medico-historical interest related to Leonardo Fioravanti (1517-1588), Antonio Vallisnieri (1661-1730), Alessandro Pascoli (1669-1757), Saverio Manetti (1723-1785), Giovanni Alessandro Brambilla (1728-1800), Antonio Scarpa (1752-1832), Paolo Mascagni (1755-1815), Filippo Pacini (1812-1883), Leonardo Gigli (1863-1908) etc. Noteworthy among the various nineteenth-century holdings is the "Thèses médecine Collection", containing over 10,000 medical theses discussed from 1798 to 1896 at the University of Paris and the "Vincenzo Balocchi Personal Library", which consists of about 1,750 books of medical and gynecological interest. Moreover the library iconographic collection counts about 1,800 portraits of physicians and scientists (photographs, engravings, litographs and drawings).
The Museo Galileo Archive houses collections of manuscript and typescript materials that are significant both for the history of science in general and for that of Florence in particular. An important one is the Archive of the Royal Museum of physics and natural history of Florence (1775-1860), which is supplemented by the Fabbroni collection, pertaining to Giovanni Fabbroni (1752-1822), the vice-director and then the director of the above mentioned Museum. These two archives contain all the documentation related to the collection of anatomical waxes and wooden anatomic statues which were built in the Museum Workshops and which are now partly exhibited in the Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale "La Specola" (Florence) and in the Museo Galileo. The archive is also home to the Corsini archive, related to Andrea Corsini, historians of medicine and first director of the Institute of the history of science (today the Museo Galileo) and other archival collections related to 19th-20th century Italian physicians (Leonardo Gigli, Angelo Celli etc.).