The Natural History Museum at the Accademia dei Fisiocritici in Siena is located in the former Camaldolesi monastery, which dates back to the 12th century and is one of the oldest and most important science museums in Tuscany. The museum exhibits natural and historic finds and ancient and fascinating tools and is all organised into four sections. In the internal court of the old monastery, there is a 15-metre long whale skeleton which has become a recognised symbol of the museum.
The zoology section has several samples of naturalised vertebrates (stuffed and mounted in natural positions), skeletons, preserved specimens, mollusc shells and boxes of insects, while the geology section exhibits minerals, rocks and fossils.
The anatomy section displays material collected by Tuscan scientist Paolo Mascagni (1755-1815), while in the botany area there are many collections, including Francesco Valenti Serini’s terracotta mushrooms and his lichen herbarium.
The museum also contains an interesting display in its archaeology section, comprising Etruscan funerary urns, found in Asciano and the Val d’Orcia, which are exhibited in a hypogeum that is used to represent an Etruscan tomb.