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The Museo Galileo was formerly known as the ‘Institute and Museum of the History of Science.’ It is located in Piazza dei Giudici of Florence, Italy. Its location is close to the Uffizi Gallery at Palazzo Castellani which is an 11th-century building. Palazzo Castellani was previously referred to as the Castello d’Altafronte. The Museo Galileo is home to some of the major collections of scientific instruments ever invented. It is an evidence for the Medici and Lorraine Grand Dukes and the crucial role that they played for the budding science and scientists of yore. It’s only some 8 years back (June 10, 2010) that the Museo di Storia della Scienza was renamed and re-opened for public viewing as Museo Galileo. It was closed since 2008 for renovations and was re-inaugurated after four hundred years after the publication of Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius (The Starry Messenger), a booklet that redefined and revolutionized the way mankind perceived the universe. This is the point from where mankind started perceiving the advent of modern science.
Put yourself into the shoes of famous astronomers at Galileo Museum
It has not been a bed of roses for the museum since its journey started in 1929. Though many of its instruments stored in the basement during World War II were damaged to a large extent, with the serious commitment of then director Maria Bonelli and with international solidarity, the instruments were recovered and restored. Thereafter opened the museum to the public again. The Medici Wardrobe in the museum is not be missed if you want to witness Cosimo’s scientific instruments’ collection. The building also offers its visitors a Mathematics Room, to take you to the history of numbers and formulas. The museum is able to retain its charm owing to interactive activities and temporary exhibitions.
As a tribute to the popular renaissance astronomer Galileo, his finger was removed by a layman in 1737, after 95 years of his death and wanted to keep it as a souvenir. It passed through many hands before landing in this museum. Hence a museum dedicated solely to scientific instruments has made a place for the finger of this great astronomer. It is placed in a small glass egg among telescopes and other instruments. This glass egg is the main attraction of the museum.
Go through the Medici Collections with a special emphasis on the original and iconic telescope and lenses with which Galileo discovered the moons of Jupiter. Nine rooms of the first floor are exclusively retained to this permanent exhibition. A plethora of artifacts is on display here. Some of them are telescopes, celestial globes, thermometers and a giant armillary sphere.
Lorraine Dynasty was able to garner experimental equipment and instruments and these are placed in the nine rooms of the second floor of the museum. These throw light on how much Italy and Tuscany contributed to the development of chemistry, electricity, and electromagnetism. The writing hand, Peter’s Chemistry Cabinet, Nollet Air Pump, Hydraulic Pump model, electromagnetic kit of Nobili are few among many other artifacts treasured in this facility.
In its pursuit to promote scientific culture, the museum religiously conducts shows and exhibitions highlighting the contribution of science and the relationship between technology, art, and science.
The gigantic scientific library contains over 15,000 works and nothing proves better than it to the bookworms who are curious about the science’s history. Five thousand books present here are very precious as they are antique. So this house of scientific books is every scientist’s dream destination.
How to Get Tickets?
Tickets are easily available at the venue. You are likely to receive your tickets within 5 to 10 minutes of reaching the ticket office. You should note that the tickets will be up to half an hour before its closing time. Use the museum’s app on your mobile to get the e-voucher and show it at the ticket office against which you will be given a physical ticket. Booking in advance is mandatory if you intend to visit it as a group or school group with a minimum of 15 members. The same applies if you are part of its guided tours or workshops. Entry is free for the children below 6 years.
How To Get Around?
Explore this building and its floors on foot at your own pace. There are ramps for wheelchairs and hence the museum can be easily accessed by people with limited motor skills. The facility of 2 wheelchair lifts and 2 elevators can be used by the visitors who use wheelchairs to access the floors of the building. On demand, a free manual wheelchair is provided.
What Should I Wear?
Wear the clothes that are comfortable to you but suited for the trip and put on a pair of sneakers or runners as the visit may last for 1 to 2 hours.
Best Time to Visit
School groups throng the halls in March and April. The galleries are invaded in the summer months by a very large number of tourists seeking to visit the collections. If you are interested in a crowd-free comfortable experience, then you visit it in Winter or Autumn ensuring the days do not fall on national holidays.
Will I Need a Guide?
Guided tours are available if you want to a deep and thorough understanding of the displays.
How To Get There?
Land at the Pisa Galileo Galilei airport, 62 miles west of Florence and avail an Autostradale bus to reach Florence. Then board a bus of Line C1 at Stazione. It will take you to Uffizi Gallery Museum via Panzani. You have to walk for one minute to reach the entrance of the gallery.
Advance booking is not necessary for individual tourists. You can prepare for the visit by browsing the museum’s official website’s Permanent Exhibition link or by downloading mini-guides app. It doesn’t have a car parking area; however, it has a commercial car park nearby. No cafes or lunch areas in the vicinity but there are many restaurants and bars in the nearby area. Pet animals are not allowed except for the visually impaired’s guide dogs and pets which are certified therapy animals. You should ensure to keep these pets on a leash. Locker facility is available to store your belongings and bags safely.