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.

Justus Sustermans (Anversa, Belgio 1597 - Firenze 1681), Ritratto di Leopoldo de’ Medici, XVII secolo, olio su tela. Firenze, Gallerie degli Uffizi, Galleria Palatina ed Appartamenti RealiJustus Sustermans (Anversa, Belgio 1597 - Firenze 1681), Ritratto di Cosimo II de’ Medici, Maria Maddalena d’Austria e il figlio Ferdinando, 1640 ca., olio su tela. Firenze, Galleria degli Uffizi


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

Treasury of the Grand Dukes (Silver Museum), Pitti Palace, Florence

Exhibition curated by Filippo Camerota and Mara Miniati

Exhibition catalogue published by Giunti Editore (available only in Italian)

Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Soprintendenza Speciale per il Patrimonio Storico, Artistico ed Etnoantropologico e per il Polo Museale della città di Firenze; Museo degli Argenti, Firenze Musei, Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza (IMSS), Ente Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze