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Science beyond the bars

Scienza oltre le sbarre 

On the occasion of the Festa della Toscana, which celebrates the abolition of the death penalty and the reform of the penal code by Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena, Museo Galileo presented the project "Scienza oltre le sbarre" (Science Beyond the Bars). It is a collaboration between the museum and two Tuscan penal institutions.

The initiative started with the Casa di Reclusione di Volterra: its director and teaching staff, together with Andrea Gori – coordinator of museum’s educational services – established a didactic program destined for the students attending the technical and professional high-schools inside the Casa di Reclusione.

The first meeting with the student inmates, which lasted about two hours, was a kind of overview on the history of science: From the life of Galileo Galilei to the illustration of his astronomical discoveries, the explanation of the instruments he created and perfected, up through the description of the 18th-century electrostatic experiments.

A second meeting focused on Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who represented a historical figure of great importance for the changes he introduced with the new penal code of 1786, which abolished the death penalty and stated the importance of a re-educative and corrective punishment.

The project was a great success, both from the educational and the human point of view: The students listened enthusiastically, contributing with their own memories and tales of their country and culture of origin.

 

The project "Scienza oltre le sbarre" also involved the Casa Circondariale di Sollicciano, where Museo Galileo launched on Friday, November 25, 2016 a new publication for children titled Peter Leopold of Lorraine: A "Grand" Grand Duke, edited by the museum’s educational department, with the collaboration of Giulio Manetti (Archivio Storico del Comune di Firenze) and drawings by Elena Triolo, a promising Florentine illustrator. The book launch was attended by Eros Cruccolini, guarantor of prisoners' rights for the city of Florence.

On March 31, 2017, the Florentine penitentiary hosted a second seminar, which was focused on the telescope from Galileo to the 18th century: its purpose, how it was constructed and how it worked, as well as the sensational discoveries it made possible.

The meeting ended with a workshop during which the inmates experienced, using natural colors such as cochineal and lapis lazuli, the art of making Florentine marble paper, like the one used to enhance the coating of some ancient telescopes kept at the Museo Galileo.