Fondazione Scienza e Tecnica Museum
The Fondazione Scienza e Tecnica (FST) was founded in 1987 as an initiative of the Regione Toscana and of the Province and Municipality of Florence, with the scientific support of the Museo Galileo. It is supported by local administrations, national ministries, and by targeted founding activities from public institution and private companies.
Its aim was to promote and spread scientific and technological culture, starting from the recovery, and
enhancement of the historic and scientific heritage from the 19th-century Istituto Tecnico of Florence. This is a rich collection – unique in Italy – of more than fifty thousand items, divided up among naturalistic collections, scientific instruments, models of machinery, manufactured products, and collections of books of historical interest. FST manages a Museum where part of the collection, in the original rooms and furniture, are accessible to the public since 2007. By developing the potential of this precious inheritance, FST intends to promote a permanent activity of scientific culture spreading by setting up an original laboratory in which appropriate use of historic equipment is flanked by that of current technologies and modern communications techniques.
The FST also hosted the Planetarium of Florence – managed together with the Museo Galileo and the Astrophysical Observatory of Arcetri. It was inaugurated in 2002 in the presence of the President of the Republic.
Expertise and infrastructure related to the project
Since 1987 the FST has been responsible for the preservation and the study of the ancient Technical Institute’s scientific heritage, as well as for the educational and research activities related to the collections, so the refurbished Cabinet of Physics has been open to the public and to scholars. About 2,000 instruments can be seen in the original rooms, which perfectly maintain the characteristics of the late 19th century setting, and today the scientific heritage of this cabinet represents an invaluable information source for the history of nineteenth-century physics and its teaching, as well as for the history of instruments and their industry and trade. All the instruments were restored in the 20th century, in the late 80s. The restoration activities involved only internal personnel, training a specialized staff active until today. The first floor of the building, where the Natural History Cabinet is located, has never been refurbished, therefore it is closed to the public but open to researchers and scholars. Most of the huge collection is stored in the original furniture, and only few specimens and models are on display in the ground floor hall. Thanks to public and private targeted founding, we have been trying to carry on restoration campaigns.
Inside the library, the books are stored in wood and glass furniture as well as in compact shelving. Most of the graphical and archival documents are stored in the basement. The entire heritage is located in a building erected in 1891 with no climate control. The FST, offers the expertise of its staff in studying the problems related to the conservation of several collections, made of very different materials. These problems are common to several small and medium Italian end European collections such as the presence of an historical building and historical furniture, the variety of materials, the lack of specialized personnel and the scarcity or financial resources. The FST will provide a series of data related to the environmental parameters, it will diffuse the results of the Apache project in the museum community and in the public. Furthermore, the FST will also contribute to develop a decision making tool for museum’s technical staff.