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  • Statue of Galileo Galilei, by Aristodemo Costoli, Tribuna di Galileo, Florence.zoom in altra finestra
  • "Alessandro Volta presents the experiment of the Volta battery to Napoleon", fresco by Gaspero Martellini to a cartoon by Nicola Cianfanelli, Tribuna di Galileo, Florence.zoom in altra finestra

Tribuna di Galileo

Built at the initiative of Grand Duke Leopoldo II of Lorraine and situated in Palazzo Torrigiani, the Tribune of Galileo was inaugurated in 1841 on the occasion of the Third Congress of Italian Scientists. The building, designed by the Florentine architect Giuseppe Martelli, was erected in honour of Galileo Galilei and was conceived as an iconographic synthesis of experimental science. It is a monument unique of its kind, a "Scientific sanctuary", as it was called by Vincenzo Antinori, at the time director of the Museum of Physics and Natural History. The work presents a rich iconographic display, with frescoes and bas-reliefs depicting instruments, scientific discoveries and the scientists who made them possible.

In particular, the seven lunettes display, with the rhetorical commemoration typical of the 19th century, the development of experimental science according to a precise, linear chronological sequence. Galileo, of course, is at the centre of the iconographic narration. The scene opens with Leonardo da Vinci in the presence of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. It continues, in the second lunette, with Galileo shown demonstrating the law of falling bodies; in the third we see the Pisan scientist intent on observing the lamp in the Cathedral of Pisa; in the fourth, as he presents his telescope to the Venetian Senate; in the fifth Galileo, by now elderly and blind, converses with his disciples; in the sixth, an experimental session of the Galilean Accademia del Cimento; and lastly, in the seventh, the logical conclusion: Alessandro Volta shown demonstrating to Napoleon the experiment of the Volta battery.

At the centre of the Tribune's hemicycle stands the statue of the great Pisan scientist sculpted by Aristodemo Costoli. At the sides are displayed some of the scientific instruments of Galileo and of the Accademia del Cimento, found today in the Florence Institute and Museum of the History of Science.

The vestibule of the Tribune is covered by a glass-and-cast-iron lantern (the glass has now been replaced with Plexiglas), which constitutes one of the first Florentine models of architecture with a metal structure and a fine example of synthesis between science, technology and the artistic iron-working industry.


Texts by Graziano Magrini

English translation by Catherine Frost

Last update 15/mag/2008