History of the Collections >

The Lorraine Collection


The Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza is heir to a tradition of five centuries of scientific collecting, which has its origins in the central importance assigned to scientists and scientific instruments by the Medici and Lorraine families.

1775 - The Museum of Physics

In 1775 the instruments were moved from the Pitti Palace to the Royal Museum of Physics and Natural History in Palazzo Torrigiani on Via Romana, where the Specola Museum is located today. Grand Duke Peter Leopold Habsburg-Lorraine (1747-1792) appointed as director of the museum Abbot Felice Fontana, who built an observatory and upgraded the collection with new instruments of mathematics, physics, meteorology and electricity, many of which were constructed in the Museum workshops.

1829 - The Museum Workshops

After their decline during the French occupation (1799-1814), the museum and its workshops were reorganized upon the return to power of the Lorraine Family. Under the direction of Vincenzo Antinori, such outstanding astronomers and physicists as Giovanni Battista Amici, constructor of microscopes, telescopes, micrometers and spectroscopes, and Leopoldo Nobili, inventor of electromagnetic and galvanometric instruments and thermo-electric piles, contributed to the development of the Museum workshops.

1841 - The Tribune of Galileo

The Tribune was built in 1841 in the Museum of Physics, on the initiative of Leopold II (1797-1870). The architect Giuseppe Martelli planned it to contain a statue of Galileo, surrounded by frescoes and bas-reliefs illustrating the discoveries and the most important instruments of the great scientist: the geometric and military compass, an armed loadstone, two telescopes, and the objective lens of the telescope with which Galileo discovered the Jupiter satellites. The Renaissance instruments and those of the Accademia del Cimento were also displayed in the Tribune.



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