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From the Institute of Sciences to the museums of the university

Stampa Istituto delle ScienzeAre you curious to know how some of the museums of the University of Bologna were born? Let’s start from the history of a great collection which was once called the Institute of Sciences.

This institute was founded in Bologna as a place of study and experimentation in 1711 during the European scientific debates. The founder, Luigi Ferdinando Marsili, chose Natural History as one of its main research subjects. In 1742 the Institute acquired the great collection of “naturalia” by Ulisse Aldrovandi and the specimens from the Wunderkammer by Ferdinando Cospi. Since the Napoleonic era, the collections of the Institute began to be spread around, leading to the creation of new separate collections.

The old rooms of the Institute of Sciences have become the Museum of Palazzo Poggi, where you can find part of the Institute’s collections. Stroll around and let yourself be mesmerized by the legendary unicorn horn, the flying gurnard, the sea coconut – the biggest seed in the world. Here you will find hints on the origin of fossils, the form of the Earth’s crust and the classification of living species.

In 1860 Marsili’s great Museum of Natural Sciences was permanently divided into three thematic collections belonging to the University of Bologna: the Zoological Collection, Geological Collection and the Mineralogical Collection.

At the Zoological Collection you will observe African game trophies and see specimens from near and distant worlds.

The rocks and fossils of the Institute of Sciences became the core of Geological Collection "Giovanni Capellini Museum". Its first director was Giovanni Capellini, a wise Italian geologist who enriched the collection with specimens coming from all over the world. Today you can see them displayed in the original furniture.

Finally, at the Mineralogical Collection "Luigi Bombicci Museum" you will be surprised to find over 10 thousand stones and minerals. This collection represents the combination of Marsili’s own collection and donations and acquisitions that have occurred constantly during the following centuries. Here you can find a specimen of the famous “Bologna stone”, which has been the object of curiosity on the part of scientists since the early 17th century.


Museums and collections included in the tour:

Museum of Palazzo Poggi, via Zamboni 33, Bologna

Zoological Collection, via Selmi 3, Bologna

Geological Collection "Giovanni Capellini Museum", via Zamboni 63, Bologna

Mineralogical Collection "Luigi Bombicci Museum", piazza di Porta San Donato 1, Bologna