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Exhibitions | From 14/05/2008 to 10/01/2009

The Medici and Sciences. Instruments and machines in the Grand-Ducal collections

The Medici and Sciences. Instruments and machines in the Grand-Ducal collections

The Medici: patrons of the arts and supporters of sciences for nearly three centuries

The exhibition entitled “The Medici and Sciences” addresses the leading role played by physical, mathematical and natural disciplines in Tuscany in the sixteenth-seventeenth centuries. Starting with Cosimo I de’ Medici (1519 – 1574) and up to Ferdinand II de’ Medici (1610 – 1670), the Medici were great patrons of both the constructors of scientific instruments and natural philosophers. Cosimo I was passionate about natural sciences and Ferdinando II was a patron and friend of Galileo Galilei, he was obsessed with new technologies and had barometers and telescopes installed in the Pitti Palace.

They were both aware, more than any other European rulers, of the fact that scientific knowledge and the technological control of nature gave political power, solidity and prestige. This is the reason why alongside collections of paintings, sculptures and jewellery, the Medici also created a collection of scientific and mathematical instruments.

The close relationship between art and science emerges from the precious beauty of many of these instruments, often one-off pieces and authentic works of art. The exhibition underscores the fusion between art, science and political power. A wide selection of instruments from the Institute and Museum of the History of Science is juxtaposed with paintings, printed works and manuscripts from the museums of the Polo Museale and other institutes and libraries in Florence and in Italy.

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