Museo Galileo – Museum of Science History, Florence
The Museo Galileo is a science museum in Florence, Italy, named after the famous Italian scientist Galileo Galilei.
History and building
The museum is housed in Palazzo Castellani, a medieval palace located on Florence’s Lungarno riverfront, not far from the Uffizi Gallery.
The palace is an imposing brick building, whose origins date back to the 12th century, once known as Castello d’Altrafonte. The palace is also briefly cited in Dan Brown’s novel Inferno.
The Museo Galileo, previously known as Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza (Institute and Museum of Science History), was re-opened in 2010 after major renovation works.
Collection and permanent exhibition
The collection of the Museo Galileo comprises a large number of historical scientific instruments from the collection of the Medici family.
The origins of the collection date back to 1562, when Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici started collecting rare scientific instruments, astrolabes, armillary spheres, globes, and geographical maps. The collection was further enlarged by other members of the Medici and the Lorena families who ruled Florence until the late 18th century.
About 1,000 pieces from the museum’s collection are currently on display in eighteen rooms, together with historical documents, books, and multimedia exhibits.
The permanent exhibition presents various scientific fields – such as astronomy, geography, cartography, physics, chemistry, and optics – mainly from a historical point of view and by the means of artifacts, many of which are masterpieces of craftsmanship, dating from the 16th to 18th century.
Fully accessible to physically-impaired people, the Museo Galileo also contains a 150,000-volume library, a multimedia lab, a temporary exhibition space, and a bookshop.
Museo Galileo, Florence; the lens of the telescope with which Galileo Galilei discovered the moons of Jupiter in 1610; photo Dage – Looking For Europe.
A monumental armillary sphere made in 1588-1593 by Antonio Santucci; photo Massimiliano Calamelli
Cover image, Palazzo Castellani, the home of the Museo Galileo museum in Florence; photo © Riccardo Bianchini / Inexhibit
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