The Museo Galileo, originally named The Institute and Museum of the History of Science, is located in the Plazzo Castellani, adjacent to the Uffizi Gallery,overlooking the Piazza del Giudici and the river Arno. The Palazzo itself dates back to medieval times and consists of a rather bare stone facade with rounded windows, inside the building has been redeveloped and was reopened as the Museo Galileo in June 2010.
As its name would suggest, the museum is dedicated to Galileo Galilei who was born in 1564 near the city of Pisa. He studied medicine at the city university, but soon developed an interest in philosophy and mathematics, and in 1589 was appointed professor of mathematics at the University in Pisa, later holding the same position at the University of Padua. During this time he worked on a variety of experiments, including as most school children can tell you, the speed at which different objects fall.
The scientific instruments housed in the Museo Galileo come mainly from the collections of the Medici family, and later the Grand Dukes of Lorraine. Visitors to the museum could well be excused for not seeing these as instruments for scientific progress, but simply as stunning works of art in their own right.
Exhibits are well labelled in both Italian and English, plus the museum has many audio and visual aids to keep the visitor fully informed and entertained. Particularly useful is the hand-held device that you can carry around with you.
Museo Galileo houses exhibits related to medicine, philosophy, and mathematics, dating from the Middle Ages right up to modern times. There are over 1000 exhibits on display at any one time, although the museums overall collection is estimated to be in the region of 5000 items.
On display in the museum are the only surviving instruments that were designed and built by Galileo himself. This display includes the original objective lens and the two telescopes that Galileo was using when he discovered four of the moons that orbit the planet Jupiter.