Museo Galileo: 1930-2010 : The ideal Museum: projects never implemented

The ideal Museum: projects never implemented

Galileo’s Tribune, fruit of the first congresses of Italian scientists, was inaugurated in Palazzo Torrigiani on September 15, 1841. In a splendid architectural scenario planned by Vincenzo Antinori and designed by the Florentine architect Giuseppe Martelli, it safeguarded the Galilean memorabilia, the instruments used by the Accademia del Cimento and some 18th-century instrumentation.

Near the end of the 19th century the importance of this sanctuary to Galilean science, originally intended to gather around it the elite of Italian science, rapidly declined, consequent to the progressive transfer of the scientific departments of the Istituto di Studi Superiori to the city’s centre and the inauguration of the new Arcetri Observatory.

In 1922 the physicist Antonio Garbasso, who had managed the Tribune for many years, suggested that its historic collections should be moved to Galileo’s villa, “Il Gioiello”, in the vicinity of the new physics laboratory at Arcetri. This project came to nothing, and Garbasso managed to have only the historic library moved there.

A short time later Carlo Del Lungo, physicist and historian of science, suggested that the Tribune’s collections should be used to form a “Historic Museum of the physical, natural and medical sciences” that would be independent of the university. This idea was openly opposed by Garbasso and, after the promising success of the 1929 Exhibition, by Corsini as well.

Selecting Palazzo Castellani as the new seat of the Florentine scientific collections appeared the best idea to all concerned, although it was several years before all of the instruments could be moved there from the Tribune.

After the inauguration of the Museum in Palazzo Castellani, the difficulties involved in acquiring sufficient space there led to a project in the Fifties for a new seat of the Museum to be situated in the vicinity of Arcetri and Galileo’s home; but this idea too was abandoned.

In the early Seventies, with Bonelli’s excellent promotion of the Museum’s heritage, an ambitious, fascinating idea emerged, for an architectural solution linking the exhibition areas of the Galleria degli Uffizi and those of the Museo di Storia della Scienza, and thus relating two collections intimately linked by a shared history.