Museo Galileo despite its name is more than just a museum dedicated to one of the world’s greatest scientists Galileo Galilei. With its collection of scientific instruments it is an ode to history of science and the source of inspiration for all visitors, young and old.
Where is Museo Galileo?
This incredible collection of historical scientific instruments is housed in the impressive Palazzo Castellani, an 11th-century building along the River Arno in Florence. Its within walking distance of the Uffizi gallery, where some of the most stunning art work is on display.
Having had the pleasure of standing with my mouth gapping in front of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, I associate Florence with art. The capital of Italy’s region of Tuscany was considered the birthplace of the Renaissance. Today Florence is famous for its culture, Renaissance art and architecture and monuments.
What’s special about it?
I never knew the Florentines were great patrons of science as well. And Renaissance was also a time of great many discoveries. Science never interested me. I still believe my right side of the brain never fully developed. Anyway, hubby loves science and I want to inspire my kids. Let them know science is cool, fun and important.
Museo Galileo is a great testament to that period, as it owns one of the world’s major collection of scientific instruments. Visiting the museum will show you how the patronage of the wealthy was crucial for the scientists. How great scientists like Galileo and their work changed the world. Today we can take many of the great inventions of that time for granted.
How long does the visit take?
The good thing is that despite Florence being overflown with tourists, the majority focuses on the other places. We could enjoy the museum without bumping into someone all the time.
While we thought the couple of floors will take an hour most, we spent almost three exploring this amazing institution.
What to see?
The first floor is about the family Medici and their collection, from 15th century to 18th.
We were most impressed with Galileo’s unique artifacts, two extant telescopes and the framed objective lens from the telescope with which he discovered the Galilean moons of Jupiter. I loved the collection of terrestrial and celestial globes, giant armillary sphere designed and built by Antonio Santucci.
My girls still remember thermometers used by members of the Accademia del Cimento. Especially learning how in the beginning they couldn’t measure the temperature of the patient, only determine if the patient had fever.
The second-floor houses instruments and experimental items collected by the Lorraine dynasty (18th-19th century). They took over Florence after the Medici family. Emphasis is on electricity, electromagnetism and chemistry.
The exhibits include obstetrical wax models and Grand Duke Peter Leopold’s chemistry cabinet.
Museo Galileo has a list of great many activities for adults and children ages 10 and up. If you understand Italian, definitely include this into your visit.
For more info on this amazing museum, check their website, where you have a chance to take a virtual tour of the museum and learn more about the great history of science.