The Museo Galileo 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.
1562 - The Medici Wardrobe
The Medicean collection of scientific instruments was begun by Cosimo I (1519-1574), who housed it in the Wardrobe of Palazzo Vecchio, known today as the "sala delle carte geografiche" (Map Room). The room was decorated between 1563 and 1581 by Egnazio Danti and Stefano Buonsignori, who painted on the 57 doors of the wardrobes the geography of the known world. Against the end wall was the planetary clock by Lorenzo della Volpaia. According to the original project, two large globes, one terrestrial, the other celestial, were to hang from the ceiling.
1600 - Mathematics Room
In 1600 Ferdinando I (1549-1609) transferred the collection to a small room in the Uffizi Gallery which became known as the "stanzino delle matematiche". Giulio Parigi depicted on the ceiling the instruments in the collection. Here and on the adjoining terrace (which once housed the great armillary sphere built by Antonio Santucci in 1593) the instruments bequeathed by Robert Dudley and those purchased in Germany by Mattias de' Medici were displayed.
1657 - The Accademia del Cimento
With the foundation of the Accademia del Cimento (1657), inaugurated by Ferdinand II (1610-1670) and Leopold de' Medici (1617-1675) for the purpose of conducting the experimental investigation of nature, the collection was enriched with new instruments designed mainly for thermometric, barometric and pneumatic research. The Accademia was located in the Pitti Palace where all the instruments in the Medici collection were subsequently moved.