Museo Galileo: 1930-2010 : The Museo di Storia della Scienza from 1945 to 1961

The Museo di Storia della Scienza from 1945 to 1961

For the Museum, the years following the post-war period were dense with events marking its resurgence. Some instruments, which had remained in the old seat of the Specola due to lack of space, were moved to the Museum. In the early Fifties the collections were enriched by private donations and loans. Outstanding among the former were the Mascagni Collection (donated by Federico Allodi) and two Galilean-type microscopes (donated by Professor Nello Beccari); among the latter, the mineralogical collection of Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti (today returned to the University of Florence Museum of Natural History) and the rich collection of surgical instruments and vessels from the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova.

In 1948 the beautiful Medicean-Lorraine library was consigned on loan. It had been brought to the Physics Institute by Garbasso and had originally formed a repertory inseparable from the instruments collection.

The growth of the collections and the new educational exhibits, such as the replica of Cennini’s typography loaned to the Museum by the Istituto Nazionale del Libro in 1933, called for reconsideration of the displays as a whole, and for the compiling of a scientific catalogue of the collections.

In 1952, encouraged by Corsini, Pietro Pagnini, an expert on scientific instrumentation, and Maria Luisa Bonelli, now become curator of the collections, published a catalogue of the objects displayed in the 1929 exhibition. This volume was followed in 1954 by publication of the Museum’s first catalogue, after its reorganization. The ground floor was now occupied by Leonardo Da Vinci’s models of flying machines, the chemistry and medical collections and some of the electrical instrumentation. On the first floor, nine rooms were devoted to optics, mathematical instruments, electricity, astronomy and cosmography, Galileo and the Accademia del Cimento, telescopes and mechanics (occupying three rooms). The library, which had also been enriched by gifts and loans, occupied a room on the first floor.

In the late 1950s, the Museum was granted usufruct of Palazzo Castellani’s magnificent loggia. It was used to display the mineralogical collection, as well as for conferences and temporary exhibitions.

During this same period the CNR (National Research Institute), at the urging of the illustrious geographer Roberto Almagià, offered substantial funds for restoring pieces of exceptional value, such as Vincenzo Coronelli’s globes and Antonio Santucci’s armillary sphere.