The Galileo Museum is one of the smaller museums in Florence but what it lacks in size it makes up for in fascinating exhibits. Originally, this museum was simply called the History of Science Museum but its name was changed in 2010. The change of name reflects Galileo’s enormous influence in the field of science and the museum houses some of his original instruments.
Get to know Galileo Galilei
Galileo was born in 1564 and died in 1642 at the age of 75. He was an astronomer, mathematician, physicist and engineer and often referred to as the father of Modern Science.
Galileo is a fascinating person. He was famously found guilty of heresy by the Roman Catholic Church during the Inquisition. What was his crime? He argued that the earth revolved around the sun. At the time it was heresy to say that. Although he was subsequently kept under house arrest he continued to pursue scientific discoveries and went on to publish more books. A quite remarkable man.
Galileo’s Middle Finger
When did you last see a 282-year-old finger displayed as a museum exhibit? However, at the Galileo Museum in Florence, you can view Galileo’s finger, thumb and even a tooth. It’s an unusual exhibit in a museum dedicated to science and scientific instruments nevertheless it’s one of the most popular displays at the Galileo museum.
See Galileo’s scientific instruments
Not everything in the museum is about Galileo but it does contain many items which originally belonged to him. These include his telescopes and thermometers as well as many other items.
See the largest armillary sphere in the world
One of the centrepieces of the Galileo Museum is this impressive sphere. Technically, it’s an armillary sphere which is a representation of celestial bodies with the earth or sun at the centre. This one was built by Antonio Santucci in the late 16th century and has the earth at its core. You’ll be amazed by the detail included especially as some things represented were virtually unknown at the time it was constructed. It’s a truly awesome exhibit which is as much art as science.
Look carefully at the World Map
Look closely because this map of the world (Mappa Mundi in Italian) is upside down. Well, not completely upside down but you’ll notice several features such as the boot and heel of Italy are at the top rather than the bottom. Likewise, Asia is on the left. Nonetheless, this map is extremely detailed and represents parts of the world which weren’t even fully explored at the time it was drawn. It’s a fascinating insight into how our view of the world has evolved and changed over the years.
Try science for yourself at the Galileo Museum
If you’re looking for things to do in Florence with kids then head for the interactive rooms at the Galileo Museum. You can view the sky as it appeared to Galileo through his telescope and try out some of his experiments on bodies in motion. Admire the intricate designs of different types of clocks and turn the gears to see how they work.
Visit the Galileo Museum’s Official website for more detailed information about the many exhibits.