Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza - Firenze
The Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza (IMSS) is one of the foremost international institutions in the History of Science, combining a renowned museum of scientific instruments and an institute dedicated to the research, documentation and dissemination of the history of science in the broadest senses.
It was founded in 1927 at the initiative of the University of Florence under the name of Istituto di Storia delle Scienze. According to its Statute, its function was that of collecting, cataloguing and restoring ancient instruments and devices of historical and scientific interest. Located in one of the most ancient building in the very centre of Florence, close to Ponte Vecchio e Galleria degli Uffizi, the IMSS is heir to a tradition of five centuries of scientific collecting, which has its origins in the central importance assigned to scientists and scientific instruments by the Medici and Lorraine families.
The Medici collection of mathematical instruments tells about the culture and the interest in the experimental method of the most famous mathematicians, astronomers and artists–engineers of the Renaissance. Thee cultural scenario in which celestial and terrestrial globes, armillary spheres, compasses, surveying instruments, astrolabes, quadrants were created was characterized by a strong link between artistic interests, astronomical studies and cartographic production.
Examples from this heritage are offered by the armillary sphere of Antonio Santucci (1593), the only two telescopes of Galileo Galilei still existing, and the remarkable instruments of the Accademia del Cimento (1656–1657), one of the most ancient European scientific academies.
The Lorena collections present an impressive overview of the developments of scientific research until mid–nineteenth century, which is made up by the huge collection of electrical machines, obstetrical waxes, geodetic instruments, weights and measures, Chemistry and mechanical clocks.
In addition to the museum, the institution includes the specialized library, the archives, the multimedia, photographic and restoration laboratories, the educational laboratories and provides an integrated whole in the service of disseminating scientific culture, capitalizing on Italy’s technical/scientific heritage, while continuously updating research in the history of science and technology.
Some figures about IMSS
Year opened: 1930
Total area: 4.160 square meters
Exhibition area: 1.524 square meters
Number of visitors (year 2004): 70.000
Student visitor percentage: 40%
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