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Galileo and the fascination of science. In a museum. In Florence.

Terrestrial and celestial globes, barometers, compasses, telescopes, thermometers, astrolabes, armillary spheres… and the original instruments of the revolutionary Galileo Galilei, which is designed and built by himself (and which are the only ones still surviving!).
Hall III -
Hall III - "The representation of the world" [Photo Credits: Sabina Bernacchini]
And all this is just a stone’s throw from the Ponte Vecchio and from the main tourist attractions of Florence, in the 11th-century Palazzo Castellani: it’s the Galileo Museum – Institute and Museum for the History of Science.
Castellani Palace [Photo Credits: Sabina Bernacchini]
Castellani Palace [Photo Credits: Sabina Bernacchini]
The museum hosts priceless and beautiful scientific pieces, belonging mainly to two amazing and historical collections: the Medici collection, begun by Cosimo I (1519-74), and the Lorraine collection. The new exhibition layout of the museum is the result of a recent renovation work (the museum in fact reopened with the new name “Museo Galileo” in 2010) and presents the historical and cultural setting in which the Medici and Lorraine collections were assembled, as well as the collectors’ goals and the history of scientific activity in Florence and Tuscany, in relation to international research of the same periods. However, the main focus is without a doubt Galileo: you just need to know that his middle finger, his index finger and a tooth are on show! The most important pieces among the Galileo’s ones are the two original telescopes and the objective lens with which he discovered Jupiter’s moons.
Hall VII -
Hall VII - "Galileo’s New World" [Photo Credits: Sabina Bernacchini]
Room after room (with, in our pocket, all the technology to which we are now so accustomed!), we learn about the challenges and questions that, in the past, has had to find a not-so-easy answer: how to measure time by day and by night, the problem of longitude for the science of navigation, the birth of the science of warfare linked to the spread of firearms that transformed the battlefields in geometric studies. And, later on, the meteorology development, the biological world, optics, medical science, light and the modern industry of precision instruments.
Hall XI -
Hall XI - "The Spectacle of Science" [Photo Credits: Sabina Bernacchini]
The exhibition is enriched and completed by the presence of screens illustrating (in Italian and English) the history and operation of the main instruments on show, such as the famous inclined plane of Galileo. If you're intrigued, but, for now, you don’t have a chance to visit the museum, you can console yourself in the meantime with its excellent online version: the virtual museum offers more than 1,000 objects on permanent exhibition through color images and detailed descriptions. museogalileo INFORMATION Museo Galileo - Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza Piazza dei Giudici 1 Florence Opening times The museum is open every day including Sundays and holidays, except for 1 January and 25 December Monday to Sunday 9.30am – 6pm, Tuesday 9.30am -1pm Tickets 9 €, reduced 5.50 € (6-18 years old, over 65 years old), free for children under 6 Note In 2012, the Museo Galileo opened a new interactive area: visitors have the opportunity to interact with innovative exhibits and to understand why and how some of the original instruments are kept in the museum’s historical collection work. The museum is completely accessible to visitors with limited motor skills. The tactile exploration of a selection of originals and replicas helps visually impaired visitors to better understand how the instruments are made and work. All visitors with disabilities and one companion are granted free entrance to the Museo Galileo. All photos courtesy of Museo Galileo - Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza