The Museum of History of Science displays a very accurate and important collection of scientific instruments, the proof that interest of Florence in science from the thirteenth century onwards was as great as its interest in art.
The collection, or at least the oldest core, originates from the interest of the Medici and Lorraine family in natural, physical and mathematical sciences. It is well known that Cosimo I and Francesco de' Medici encouraged the scientific and artistic researches in the Grand Ducal workshops, although even Ferdinando II and Cardinal Leopoldo promoted and continued, in the 17th century, physics experiments in the full light of Galileo's method.
During the 19th century, even Francesco and Pietro Leopoldo of Lorraine continued this type of collecting with the aid of qualified specialists like the abbot Felice Fontana (1730-1805), who was appointed to direct and increase the collection of the new Museum of Physics and Natural History, inaugurated in the rooms of the present day Specola museum, situated in via Romana.
Most of the instruments displayed come from the workshop of the latter museum and are now exhibited on the second floor of the Museum of History of Science that also comprises the old Medici collection originally displayed at the Uffizi.
The first floor (11 rooms) is dedicated to the Medici core: quadrants, astrolabus, meridianas, dials, compasses, armillary spheres, bussolas, real works of art made by famous Tuscan and European artists. The museum also exhibits the Galileo's original instruments, the thermometers belonging to the Accademia del Cimento (1657-1667), the microscopes and meteorological instruments. The second floor (10 rooms) shows a large number of very interesting and beautiful instruments, mostly belonging to the Lorraine family, used for mechanical, electrostatic and pneumatic applications.
Other sections are dedicated to mechanical clocks, sextants, octants, pharmaceutical and chemical apparatus, weights and measures. The section dedicated to medicine displays suggestive obstetrical models in wax and terracotta, which show a real catalogue of anomalous positions of the foetus in the womb, in addition to a collection of surgical instruments belonging to Giovanni Alessandro Brambilla.
The Institute of History of Science, close to the museum, owns a very large and old library with lots of research material that is continuously updated. The Institute publishes an internal review on history of science, "Nuncius", besides carrying out permanent research work on the history of science and technique, organising exhibitions and publishing monographical work, catalogues of instruments, etc. It also carries out an intense didactic activity thanks to the Planetarium on the ground floor. The Institute also has a photographic laboratory, two restoration laboratories and a modern IT laboratory.
Ph: +39 055 265311
Tickets: 4,00; 2,00 (reduced ticket)
Opening hours: Sundays - closed
Weekdays - Winter: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 9.30 am - 5 pm; Tuesday: 9.30 am - 1 pm; Summer (from June 1 to September 30): Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 9.30 am - 5 pm; Tuesday and Saturday: 9.30 am - 1 pm; the ticket office closes 30 minutes before the museum closing time.
Closed: Sunday. November 1, December 8, 25 and 26, January 1 and 6, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, April 25, May 1, June 2 and 24, August 15