MUSEUMS OF NATURAL SCIENCETHE TRIBUNE OF GALILEO.
THE University of Florence, according to Matteo Villani, dates from the fourteenth century, when it was decreed by the Republic that Chairs of Philosophy, Rhetoric, and other branches of knowledge should be founded, in the hope thereby to restore some prosperity to the city, and induce those who had abandoned Florence, after the frightful visitation of the Plague in 1348, to return and inhabit the town. The studies of civil and canon law, as well as of theology, were to be specially encouraged. A revenue was assigned from the public funds, in order to obtain the services of the most distinguished professors from all parts, and the first lecture was delivered on November 6, 1348. Boccaccio, on this occasion, was des-patched to Padua with a letter to Petrarch from the Prior of the Arts, and the Gonfalonier, of Florence, cancelling the act of banishment which had been unjustly imposed on him, and requesting him to return, and assume the direction of the infant university. Petrarch thought fit to decline this offer, but expressed his gratification at the flattering terms in which the letter had been written.’
In order to protect the interests of the institution, it was decreed at this early period that any Florentine studying at a foreign university should be liable to a penalty; and about this same period (1349) Pope Clement VI., who was then resident in Avignon, granted a bull, confirming the privileges of the Florentine University, and, to the infinite satisfaction of the Florentines, declared it to be on an equal footing with those already established at Paris and Bologna. In 1378, seventeen professorships already existed in the ` Studio Fiorentino,’ as the Institution was called ; and a Chair for Greek, as well as another for Commentaries on Dante was shortly added. The lectures were delivered in houses attached to the Duomo, or Cathedral ; but there was no special building appointed for the residence of the students and professors until the following century, when Niccolo d’ Uzzano, a wealthy Florentine citizen, already mentioned, made a bequest at his death, in 1432, for a building to accommodate fifty students, under the patronage of the Guild of Foreign Wool Calimala.
In 1483, the foundations for a college were laid in the Piazza San Marco, on the site now occupied by the museums and lecture rooms, which have been recently arranged for the same object. The Via della Sapienza` Street of Learning’was so named from this early college. The building for Niccolo d’ Uzzano’s college, however, had hardly commenced when wars exhausted the Republic, and the funds were appropriated and expended for very different objects. The lectures were for a long period delivered in one or other of the numerous convents or churches of Florence, at the discretion of the professor who happened to be in office, and several courses on Dante’s Divine Comedy were given in the church of San Stefano, near the Ponte Vecchio, as well as in the cathedral.
In 1366 it was decreed that the Rector of the University should always be of foreign extraction, a proof of the cautious spirit evinced from very early times in Florentine institutions ; and until 1417, the officers appointed to superintend the organisation of the University had but a single year of office, which was afterwards commuted into a triennial tenure. The visit of Charles VIII. of France to Florence, in 1494, was for a time seriously detrimental to the interests of the university, which continued to languish during the divisions of the city, following the preaching of Savonarola, although Cosimo Pater Patrice and his successors were firm and ardent patrons of the institution, which thus kept its ground century after century through various vicissitudes. Among the distinguished professors of the Florentine University we may name Filippo Villani, who lectured on Dante ; Carlo Marsupini, on Literature ; Cristofano Landino, on Classic Literature ; Marsilio Ficino, on Greek ; Naldo Naldi, on Literature ; Pier Vettori, Professor of Greek and Latin ; Benedetto Varchi, Poet and Historian ; Evangelista. Torricelli, the celebrated geometrician and inventor of the barometer; Vincenzio Viviani, also a celebrated geometrician, and the pupil of Galileo ; Francesco Redi, a physician and writer on Natural History, perhaps best known by his comic epic, ‘Bacco in Toscana’ ; Pier Anton Micheli, the distinguished botanist ; Antonio Cocchi, botanist and physician ; and Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti (1712-1783), also physician and botanist, the first of a family which has furnished several eminent men of science to Tuscany.
In 1807 the Queen of Etruria, Elisa Buonaparte Bacciocchi, added a School of Public Instruction, and founded Chairs of Astronomy, Physics, Anatomy, Zoology, Mineralogy, Botany and Chemistry, which on the restoration of the Grand Duke, Ferdinand III., in 1814, were temporarily suppressed. In 1833, however, after the accession of the last Grand Duke, Leopold II., they were re-established, with the exception of that of Botany, which was only renewed in 1842, when the distinguished botanist, Professor Filippo Parlatore, a Sicilian by birth, was appointed to fill this chair. After the accession of Victor Emanuel in 1859, the institution for more advanced studies Studii superioriwas founded, with Chairs of Geology, Metallurgy, and Mining. For many years the courses of Literature, History, Philosophy, and Languages were under a separate direction from those on Natural Science, and the lectures were delivered in different buildings. The institution at San Marco now (1884) in process of organisation, is intended to combine all the branches of study under one roof. Some time, how-ever, must elapse before the botanical and zoological collections can be moved from the institution in the Via Romana, where lectures on these subjects continue to be delivered. The ethnographical collection contains a vast number of crania (skulls), which have been arranged under the direction of Professor Mantegazza ; the collection is at present in a suite of rooms in the Via Gino Capponi, formerly Via San Sebastiano, near the SS. Annunziata. The buildings at San Marco were for many years used as Grand Ducal stables, and more recently for cavalry barracks ; but they have been, entirely remodelled and renewed for the reception of the palæontological and mineralogical collections, which are placed on the ground floor of the establishment, where there is abundance of light, and where they are admirably arranged for the use of students.
The Palaeontological Collection from Central Italy is extremely valuable. It was first formed by order of the Government from materials already existing in the Museum, and in the third Scientific Congress held in Florence, a resolution was passed to add minerals and geological specimens from all parts of Italy, to be arranged geographically, according to the geological divisions of the Peninsulathe fossils following the rock specimen of each formation, and the minerals in like manner illustrating the formation, and distributed according to a consecutive system. That part which exhibits the minerals of all countries is very rich, though less remarkable for number or variety than for the beauty of the specimens. Those from the Island of Elba are among the most valuable of the whole collection. The Museum is also enriched by gifts from Prince Demidoff.
The Geological Collection is in two divisionsthe general collection, and that intended to exhibit the rock formations of Italy. The most important specimens belonging to the first of these divisions are from HungaryKaiserstühland from Egypt. As an appendix to these is a collection of geological specimens applied to the useful arts, the most important of which are the Italian marbles, cut and polished, which received the Premium at the London Exhibition of 1861.
The Palaeontological Museum of Central Italy consists chiefly of fossil mammalia, but it is also well supplied with other fossils from the Tertiary deposit. Professor Cesare d’ Ancona is now engaged in writing on the Pleiocene formation of Italy.’
The fossil mammalia belong chiefly to the Pleiocene and Post-Pleiocene deposits of the Arno valley, and most of them are derived from the lake which formerly existed between Incisa and Montevarchi. The most important are those of elephants, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, which abounded in Italy during the Pleiocene period, and some very valuable specimens of fossil monkeys, which deserve special attention.
The celebrated fossil human skull from the neighbourhood of Arezzo is also here.
The collection has some fine specimens of the great bird of New Zealand, the Dinornis, and several allied genera. D. giganteus, from the Post-Pleiocene deposits of Canterbury, New Zealand, is a wonderfully perfect specimen. Except one example in the Museum of Milan, it is unique in Italy.
An important feature in the collection, remarkable for .the beauty and number of the specimens, are the fossils from the Pietra-forte, belonging to the Upper Cretaceous formation. Some fossils from the Secondary formation of Tuscany, almost unique of their kind, were collected by the exertions of the former Professor, Cocchi.
This collection has been noticed by some of the most. eminent European naturalists, especially by the late Dr. Hugh Falconer, who published numerous observations on the fossils of the Florentine Museum.
Visitors to Florence interested in its geology, and desirous to know something of the formations in the vicinity of the city, are recommended to visit the quarry of Monte Ripaldo, outside the Porta Romana, where they will find an excellent display of the Upper Cretaceous rocks, known as Pietra-forte; as well as the quarries on the banks of the Arno below Florence, between Signa and Montelupo, which exhibit the rock called `Macigno,’ a very curious siliceous sandstone, with singular black patches scattered through it. ` Macigno’ also appears in the quarries near Fiesole. Nummulites, indicating Eocene Tertiary strata, occur near the village of Mosciano, about five miles south of Florence. The later Tertiary deposits include vast beds of lignite, and are displayed on the railway cutting near San Giovanni, about half way between Florence and Arezzo.
The serpentines of Italy, which merit the attention of geologists, occur at the village of the Impruneta about eight miles south of Florence, and again at Monte Ferrato, about two miles north-west of Prato, from whence the green marbles in the Duomo and other Florentine churches have been extracted.
Museums of Botany and Zoology.
The Palace in the Via Romana in which the natural history collections are preserved, originally belonged to the Bini family,. but passed through several hands before the year 1795, when the ‘Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo purchased the building from the family of the Torrigiani. This energetic sovereign employed. the Abate Felice Fontana to collect objects illustrative of natural history, and afterwards appointed him Director of the Museum, which was opened to the public in the year 1780.
Within the court of the building is the skeleton of a whale, A statue of Evangelista Torricelli, the inventor of the barometer, born at Faenza in 1608, is at the foot of the staircase. Torricelli became acquainted in Rome with a pupil of -Galileo, and was welcomed hy the great philosopher to Florence, where, after his death, Torricelli was appointed Court Mathematician, but he died young.
On the first floor are the Lecture-rooms, Herbariums, Botanical Library, and a very interesting collection of Natural Products of Plants used for medicine and art.
Though not equal in size to the similar collection in Kew, founded by the distinguished botanist, the late Sir William Hooker, this is very complete. Professor Filippo Parlatore began this collection, as well as the Herbarium of Central Italy, in 1842, and obtained specimens of flowers, fruit, and seeds from the botanical gardens attached to the Museum, as well as from Italian and foreign botanists. When the Professor was one of the jurors at the great Exhibitions of Paris and London ,of 1855, 1862, and 1867, and at the Italian Exhibition of 1861, he obtained great additions to the collection ; when chosen Director of the Museum, he sent a circular to the Italian Consuls in all parts of the world, to request their assistance in contributions of natural products from every place in which they were stationed. By these means the collection of vegetable products has become singularly rich and important, including specimens preserved in spirits of wine ; woods, starches, sugars, oils, gums, resins, balsams, textile fibres, &c., with manufactures of all kinds, such as ropes, cloths, hats, fans, carpets, boxes, and .articles of dress, as well as everything applicable to medicine or the industrial arts. There are, besides, drawings and photo-graphs of various useful, important, or singular plants ; the dragon tree of Teneriffe, the Mexican cypress, the Raphia palm of Madagascar, and the palm which produces the vegetable ivory, the Kauri pine of New Zealand, &c.a section of the trunk of this pine is exhibited, which is nearly eight feet in diameter.
Besides these, there is a very rich collection of cereals and grasses, such as serve for brooms, matting, &c. ; the Italian .reed, Arundo Donax, so familiar to every traveller crossing the alps into Italy ; the sheaths of the Indian corn, which, from their elasticity, are used for under-mattressesSacconi ; the Coix Lachryma, Job’s tears, the seeds of which are used for rosaries ; the papyri of Syria and SyracuseCyperus syriacus on which Professor Parlatore published a pamphlet to prove this papyrus to be a different species from that of Abyssinia and Nubia ; also the tubers of the Cyperus esculentus, eaten in Sicily and from which a refreshing drink can be obtained.
Among the specimens of the bulrush tribe are Typha found in marshes all over Europe, and used in Tuscany to protect the oil and wine flasks, and for ropes ; also specimens of Typha angustifolia, L., which the Sicilian peasants use for candles ; and the product of the Palmi di San Pier MartireChamærops humilis, L., from Algeria and Sicily.
The Oricello, or Orchil, is a lichen most worthy of notice, because of the beautiful amaranth colour obtained from it, and from which the family of Rucellai, or Oricellai, who first introduced the dye into Florence, took their name. There are good specimens of lichens which grow on the lavas of Etna and Vesuvius, collected by Professor Parlatore ; and a fine specimen of the Pietra Napolitana of the Apennines, or Fungus Stone, which, when soaked in water for a certain time, produces good edible fungi, and whose nature has occasioned much discussion among naturalists.
All these products are arranged in the natural order, be-ginning with the Cryptogams, proceeding to the Monocotyledons, and ending with the Dicotyledons. The families to which the plants belong are marked on the cases, and each specimen has the common as well as scientific name attached, with its locality, the name of the donor, and the date.
The botanical preparations in wax are especially interesting ; the natural proportions are greatly enlarged : in one case is a magnificent representation of the anatomical structure of the Truffle ; also of the Fungus, Oïdium Tuckeri, which causes the vine disease, made under the direction of Professor Amici ; as well as that of the minute fungi which attack both the vine and the rose : some of the most beautiful of these wax specimens represent the fecundation of the Gourd and Orchids.
Another case contains very interesting coloured plaster casts of fungi.
This collection is very rich in specimens of the Coniferae and Gnetaceæ, illustrated by Professor Parlatore in his monograph of these families of plants, which forms part of the great work the Prodromusof De Candolle. There are also various specimens of cottons, with coloured illustrations ; and woods and fruits of Borneo, contributed by Signor Odoardo Beccari. China, Japan, and Australia are all here represented, with rare specimens from Central Africa, Angola, and Benguela, added by the German naturalist, Mr. Welwitsch.
Beyond the rooms containing the collection of plants and vegetable products, is the valuable Central Herbarium,’ which owes its existence to Professor Parlatore, who on his first arrival in Florence found only a few packets of plants collected by the traveller Giuseppe Raddi, but generously bestowed his private Herbarium, already very rich in specimens, on the Museum, and to the end of his life devoted all his efforts to add to the collection. This Herbarium continues to increase the number of its specimens under the present Professor of Botany, Professor T. Caruel. It is arranged now according to the Synonymia botanica of Pfeiffer. The Museum also contains the valuable Herbarium of Mr. Philip Barker Webb, which, according to his desire when he left it to the institution, is kept separate from the Central Herbarium, and is arranged according to the system
Of De Candolle. This Herbarium has been enriched by contributions from Kew, chiefly Indian specimens ; also by 54S species from Brazil, the gift of Professor Wittrock, of Stockholm. Mr. Webb travelled over a large portion of Europe and Asia Minor, accompanied by Monsieur Berthollet ; they published a valuable work on the Canary Islands, which they also visited.
In the winter of 1848 Mr. Webb arrived in Florence, and he was so much impressed with the value of the botanical collection, as well as with the interest taken in the Museum by the Grand Duke Leopold II., that, at his death, he bequeathed his own large and rare collection of dried plants to this prince, and desired by his will that a house he had recently purchased in Paris should be sold, and the profits invested to produce an annual sum for additions to the botanical section of the Museum.
His portrait hangs in one of the rooms. Mr. Webb was a personal friend of Professor Parlatore, and as a token of friend-ship and esteem, he also bequeathed to the Museum his valuable botanical library of above four thousand volumes.
The Museum contains several small Herbariums of peculiar value, having been collected by botanists prior to Linn eus.
The Herbarium of Andrea Cesalpino is supposed to be the oldest in existence ; its date is about 1563. Cesalpino was born at Arezzo, in 1519, and became Professor of Botany and Medicine in his native city; he was afterwards chosen physician to Pope Clement VIII., and died in Rome in 1603. He was one of the first who arranged his specimens according to a classification founded on the organisation and fructification of the plant. His Herbarium, preserved in the Florentine Museum, was made for one of the Tornabuoni family, as appears in a letter written by him from Pisa in 1563. The specimens, which are very small, are pasted on half-sheets of strong, coarse, white paper, which Professor Parlatore had bound into folio volumes. Each specimen has its Greek, Latin, and Italian name, written by Cesalpino himself; there is no attempt at systematic nomenclature, and nothing of system visible in the arrangement, but an index in the collector’s handwriting is prefixed to the volume. This Herbarium belonged to the Palatine Library until 1844, when the Grand Duke Leopold II. presented it to the Museum of Natural History.
The Herbarium of Pier Antonio Micheli is no less valuable. Micheli, born in Florence in 1679, died in 1737. His volumes of manuscripts and drawings were purchased by the late Professor Targioni Tozzetti ; among these last, are a vast number of coloured drawings of fungi. Micheli was the first to discover that fungi were edible, and he has been called the precursor of Linnæus. His Herbarium was bought by the Grand Duke in 1845, from the family of Targioni Tozzetti, to increase the collections in the Museum.
A small volume is preserved here, containing a few plants, with their names in autograph, by Linnæus, Thunberg, Swartz, and Acharius.
Here are also the Herbariums of Pavon, Labillardière’s, Desfontaines, and Mercier. Pavon made his collection in Peru and Chili. Labillardière accompanied La Perouse on his expedition to New Holland. He was taken prisoner by the Dutch, and his collections were brought to England ; but, through the generous intervention of Sir Joseph Banks, they were restored to Labillardière without being opened ; lest, as Sir Joseph wrote to Jussieu, ‘ a single botanical thought should be taken from him, who had gained them at the risk of his own life.’ Labillardière died in 1834, and his Herbarium was bought by Mr. Webb. It is especially valuable, because containing the description of each plant in Labillardière’s own handwriting, afterwards published in his works.
René Desfontaines was the master of De Candolle ; he collected 1,600 species in Tunis and Algeria, and discovered 300 new ones. Mr. Webb purchased his Herbarium for 6,000 francs. Philippe Mercier was a Genevese.
The rich collection of fossil plants, some of which are wanting in the botanical cabinets of the capital cities of Europe, was begun by Professor Parlatore, and possesses already more than 4000 valuable specimens. Among these, the most noteworthy are the fossils of the Carboniferous formation from the mines of Mercurio di Iano, near Volterra, and the fossil plants from the vicinity of Sinigaglia; besides those of the Travertine deposits and of the Miocene formation of Tuscany, and from many formations in other parts of Italy, including the Permian formation of the Brescian territory. The splendid collection of large palms from the country around Verona and Vicenza formerly belonged to the naturalists Massalongo and Visiani ; the impressions of plants from the lava of the Island of Lipari ; those from the supposed Carboniferous strata of the Tarantaise which shine like silver, because covered by a strata of talc, are all important ; as well as the great collection from the Miocene of Switzerland, illustrated by the late Professor Heer, with many fossil impressions from the Carboniferous strata of France, Belgium, England, and Germany ; those from the Tertiary of New Zealand, and the models in plasterof many fruits and unique specimens, with stemsof trees from all parts of the world.
On this same floor, Professor Henry Giglioli has arranged a most valuable collection of the vertebrated Fauna of Italy, ranging from the Alps to the lower regions, and islands of South Italy, including Sardinia. This collection is as nearly complete as is possible in specimens of known species, since only twenty-seven species of birds and fishes are still (1883) wanting ; and these specimens are very rare and only occur accidentally within the boundaries of the Italian kingdom. Those exhibited embrace a remarkable combination of Arctic and African types.
There are good specimens of the wild boar, ibex, moufflon of Sardinia, chamois, wolf, fox, badger ; hares and ermines in their winter and summer skins, seal, otter, marmot, porcupines, hedgehogs, mice, &c. There are also many bats ; one small variety of African type, with a savage bull-dog countenance, inhabits the church of San Lorenzo, in Florence. Two others make their home in the cathedral. The birds are well represented ; eagles, owls (including the little ‘ Chiù’ owl, whose cry is so familiar to the traveller in Italy), falcons, crows, many singing and marsh birds, and a beautiful specimen of the flamingo from Sardinia. Serpents, tortoises, toads, and lizards are also here ; some very large specimens of the old Greek type of dolphin, the Mediterranean shark, and the ray-fish. Torpedo or electric fish, the sturgeon, tunny fish, also the Luphotis cepedianus a very singular fish, of which this is the only specimen hitherto found in the Mediterranean.
The celebrated wax anatomical preparations on the second floor of this Museum are especially interesting. This art was first brought to perfection by a Sicilian noble, Gaetano Giulio Zumbo, born in Syracuse, 1656. The report of his wonderful skill in wax-modelling having reached the ears of the Grand Duke Cosimo III., Zumbo was invited to Florence ; some time later he left Tuscany for Marseilles, where he lived under the patronage of Louis XIV., and died in 1703.1 The anatomical preparations of the structure of the torpedo illustrate the experiments made by Tain and Matteucci on animal electricity. The representations in wax of the magnified anatomy of the lobster, cuttle-fish, earth-worm, and the tongues of molluscs, are well deserving of attention ; there is likewise the egg in the several stages of the chicken’s development ; the anatomy of various types of vertebrated animals, the cat, goat, rabbit, cod-fish, &c. In adjoining rooms are exhibited specimens of human anatomy, among which are wax models of the muscles, ligaments, and cartilages, beside skeletons ; the last are, how-ever, of small value, since the bones themselves can be so easily obtained.
The zoological and anatomical museums are on this floor. The visitor passes through a succession of small rooms containing a large collection of insects, under the care of Professor Targioni Tozzetti, who represents the third generation of a race of illustrious naturalists ; beyond these rooms, are corals and madrepores, and finally the Mammalia. In one room is a remarkably fine example of the Tuscan wolf ; also a good specimen of the wild boar of the Maremma, the moufflons or wild sheep from Sardinia and Corsica, and very fine specimens of fish from the Mediterranean, both stuffed and preserved in spirits ; the Globo-cephalus, with its skeleton, and the pilot-whale found at Orbitello. The collection of birds is tolerably large, and remarkably well prepared.
Attached to the Museum, and adjoining the Boboli, is the Botanic Garden. The first Botanical Garden in Florence was that which bears the name of the Orto dei Semplici, or Herbal Garden, near San Marco, in the Via del Maglio, now Via Lamarmora. It was established contemporaneously with those in Pisa and Padua in the sixteenth century. Later, it was for a time given for the use of the students belonging to the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova; about ten years ago, however, it was again used as a Botanical Garden. The garden near the Boboli, and attached to the Botanical Museum, was commenced by the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, a few years after the foundation of the Museum, and was considerably enlarged by Ferdinand III., whose favourite study was botany, and who therefore added the hot-houses, and enriched the garden with a collection of foreign plants, some of which were imported by the Botanist Raddi, who was sent by Ferdinand to explore the vast Empire of Brazil. Under the direction of Professor Ottaviano Targioni Tozzetti, and by the aid of the gardener Berni, and afterwards of the gardeners Giuseppe and Antonio Piccioli, the gardens were entirely re-formed and nearly doubled in extent ; when in 1842 Professor Parlatore was called to the Chair of Botany, they again underwent improvements to adapt them better for scientific study.
There is a collection of Palms, Cycadeae, Conifers, Tree-ferns, Aroideae, Orchids, Dracaenae, &c. Among the rare plants are, the Pachira, Anda, Hura, Psidium, Pandanus, Cycas, Araucaria, and various species of Cinnamon, Quassia, Cinchona, Ipecacuanha, Coca, Nux vomica, Nepenthes, Bursera gummifera, Anacardium, Mango.
The Tribune of Galileo and Museum of Physical Instruments
Within the Palace assigned to the Museum of Natural History in the Via Romana is a small Temple on the first floor, which was dedicated by the last Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopold II to the memory of the celebrated Galileo Galilei, one of the greatest of experimental philosophers, who was born at Pisa in 1564, and died in Florence in 1642.
In the vestibule of the Tribune are marble busts of the Medicean Grand Duke Ferdinand II., of his brother Cardinal Leopold de’ Medici, of the Austrian Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo, and of the last Grand Duke Leopold II., all of whom were patrons of physical science.
In the centre of the Tribune is the statue of Galileo, by Aristodemo Costoli, a modern Florentine sculptor.
On either side of the statue of Galileo, are busts of his principal disciples, Benedetto Castelli, Buonaventura Cavalieri, Evangelista Torricelli, and Vincenzio Viviani.
The walls of the Tribune are decorated with medallions, containing bas-reliefs of others of his disciples, and painted with frescoes representing incidents in the life of the philosopher.
Some of Galileo’s most valuable instruments are exhibited in cases or niches. Among the most interesting are the first two telescopes constructed by himself in 16o9, when he held the Chair of Mathematics in Padua. The Venetian Senate, as a reward for this invention, confirmed him in his professorship for life. It was by means of one of these telescopes that he discovered the satellites of Jupiter. The Grand Duke Ferdinand I. of Tuscany desired to possess this instrument, but it was only after the death of Galileo that it became the property of his son Cosimo III.
Here is also the first microscope invented by Galileo, the same year as his telescope, 1609 and presented by his disciple Vincenzio Viviani; and the loadstone magnet, which the great philosopher used in his experiments, and, beside it, one of his fingers, which was removed from his hand by the antiquary Gori, when the body of Galileo was borne to its last resting-place in Santa Croce. In cabinets round the Tribune are astrolabes, quadrants, Galileo’s first thermometer, glass vases, and tubes, which were formerly used for experiments in the scientific Accademia del Cimento.
The powerful crystal lens, made by Brezans, of Dresden, is placed on a wooden pedestal. Thirteen years after the extinction of the Accademia del Cimento it was used by Averani and Targioni, the pupils of Viviani and Redi, in their experiments on the combustibility of the diamond, and of other precious stones, and in our days was also employed by the celebrated Sir Humphrey Davy, in his researches into the chemical components of the diamond.
One cabinet contains a series of telescopes which belonged to Torricelli, Viviani, Campani, and other physicists. In another cabinet are several physical instruments, invented in 1596 by Robert Dudley (the son of the Earl of Leicester, and Amy Robsart), who resided many years in Tuscany.
In several rooms adjoining the Tribune of Galileo are many physical instruments of great historical value. Conspicuous among these is a large orrery, arranged according to the Ptolemaic system, which has been cleaned and repaired by Cavaliere Meucci, the head of this department of the Museum. It was formerly supposed to have been the work of Ignazio Danti, but Cavaliere Meucci discovered the maker of it to have been Antonio Santucci, the cosmographer of the Grand Duke Ferdinand I., and its date to have been between the years 1588 and 1593. This singular instrument was found covered with dirt, and entirely forgotten in the Palazzo Pitti, where the Accademia del Cimento once held its meetings. The central globe is peculiarly interesting, owing to the fact that the great fresh water lakes Albert and Victoria Nyanza, in Africa, near the White Nile, are marked upon it, which for a considerable period after this globe was made, were entirely forgotten, and only brought into notice in our own time by the explorations of Captain Speke in 1858, and of Sir Samuel Baker in 1864.
This Museum contains some very interesting specimens of watches, one dated 1570, before Galileo had begun his experiments on the pendulum. A small brazen Arabic celestial globe bears date 1081, and is believed to be one of the oldest in existence ; it has inscriptions in Arabic on its surface. Here also is preserved the first barometer of Evangelista Torricelli ; a chromatic scale invented by Nobili ; the first galvano-meter, also constructed by Nobili, and his first thermo-electric pile ; and a medallion drawn and coloured by means of electrochemistry.
There are besides a case containing every instrument requisite for experiments on attraction by electric currents, and the lodestones; and a large lodestone with wires to obtain the electric spark, produced by magnetic action, on the stand of which is inscribed :`Sotto gli auspici’di Leopoldo IL, diede la prima scintilla il 30 Genn. 1832. A. L. Nobili e V. Antinori.The various mechanical contrivances in this Museum present a very interesting exemplification of the his-tory of Physics from its first development to the present time. Among the collection of modern instruments is a galvano-meter by which the late distinguished Professor Matteucci first discovered the currents of magnetism in animals ; Matteucci presented his library of scientific books and periodicals to this Museum.