History of the Collections >

After the Unification of Italy


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.

1927 - The Institute of the History of Science

After the Unification of Italy, the collections were dispersed among several university departments. The state of abandonment of the collection was condemned in 1922 by the promoters of the "Group for the Preservation of National Scientific Heritage". In 1927, thanks to their commitment, the Istituto di Storia delle Scienze was founded, with the goal of "collecting, cataloging, and restoring" the scientific collections.

1929 - The National Exhibition

In 1929, the newborn Istituto organized in Florence the First National Exhibition of the History of Science. Numerous Italian institutions participated in the show, which served to enhance the vast dimension of scientific heritage, its nationwide diffusion and its poor state of preservation. Following the show, in 1930, the University of Florence opened to the public in Palazzo Castellani the permanent exhibition of the Istituto di Storia della Scienza, to which the Medici-Lorraine collection of instruments had been conferred.

1966 - The Flood

After the damage caused by the bombings that destroyed the bridges of the Lungarno at the end of the Second World War (1944-45), another hard blow was dealt to the collection by the flood of 1966. The instruments that at the time were stored in the basement and ground floor of the Museo were seriously damaged. Thanks to international solidarity and the efforts of Maria Luisa Righini Bonelli, then-director of the Museum, it was possible to quickly carry out recovery of the instruments, reopen the exposition rooms to the public and return energies towards library collecting and research activities.

The Institute and the Museum Today

The current organization of the Institution offers, besides the museum, a research center - which promotes publications, specialized journals and reviews, exhibitions and meetings - a specialized library, rich in antique texts, modern editions and digital acquisitions, a multimedia laboratory for the development of the instrument holdings, a photographic laboratory and a restoration laboratory.


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