The historical gallery recreates, using remains, documents and paintings, the atmosphere of the Museum during the almost five centuries from its establishment, in a route backward through time.
The first part is devoted to the XX century. During this period the collection are enriched thanks to the contribution of characters like Giovanni D’Achiardi and Eugenio Ficalbi. However, most of all, the XX century is the turning point. It’s in 1979, in fact, that, because of the incitement of Ezio Tongiorgi, the Carthusian monastery of Pisa near Calci (except for the monumental parts) is granted in perpetual free use to the University of Pisa: therefore, in the 80s, the transferring of the conspicuous museum estate starts.
In the exhibition there are original remains, tools and documents, in addition to an exquisite gastropods collection realized in wax and wire, with authentic shell, from the first half of the XX century.
With a second area we make a step back: it is devoted to the XIX century, which has been crucial for the museum. During this century the collections have grown like never before, thanks to several well-known characters, among which Giorgio Santi, Leopoldo Pilla, Antonio D’Achiardi, Giuseppe Meneghini, Mario Canavari, Sebastiano Richiardi e Paolo Savi.
The exhibition includes a collection of wonderful marine invertebrates’ reproduction in blown glass realized by Leopold Blaschka.
A substantial area is devoted to Paolo Savi, historical director of the Museum from 1823 to 1871. The reconstruction of his office, provided with notes, drawings, travel journals allow the visitor to submerge directly in the atmosphere in which the great scientist might have done his researches. Extremely skilful taxidermist, Savi himself contributed to enrich the Museum collections with its preparations and specimens obtained by the exchanges with the main European museums. In the room are shown some of his creations: five big dioramas, several organs wax preparations, the type specimens of some species he described (such as the Etruscan shrew and the blind mole) in addition to several naturalized mammalian and birds. Among these, some flightless birds such as the kiwi, the ostrich and the emu, as well as three rare specimen of species recently extinguished; the passenger pidgeon, the great auk (only 80 naturalized specimens exists in the world) and the Réunion starling (of which only 20 specimens are left, including that one). In exhibition also the cast of the fossil cranium of Palaeotherium medium, a gift which Savi received from Cuvier during his trip to Paris in 1828.
The third part of the room recap the transition from Gallery to Museum, which took place during the XVIII century, with the birth of modern science. Among the protagonists of this period there are Michelangelo Tilli and Gian Lorenzo Tilli.
In exhibition some specimens of the precious Florentine Niccolò Gualtieri malacological collection, studied by Linneaus and acquired in 1747 by Francesco di Lorena, grand duke of Tuscany, specifically for the Pisa Gallery.
The exhibition route ends with the area devoted to the XVII and the XVI century. Here, in addiction to the remains and the original papers, there is the three-dimensional reconstruction of the “Scarabattolo” painted by Domenico Remps.
In the last room it is recreated an actual Chamber of wonders (Wunderkammer) ad they used to be in XVI century: here are collected, according to the taste and the habit of the period, naturalia (remains of the three kingdoms of nature), curiosa (strange and exotic remains) and artificialia (craftworks of different places and periods). Among these remains, there are two beautiful golden shells, a monkey-teeth necklace, a little hand in coral and the most curious thing: the human cranium with a branch of corals attached on its top.
A small Wunderkammer is also present in the Botanical Garden and Museum of the University of Pisa, rebuilt in the same spaces where the ancient “Gallery”, from which the Natural History Museum originated, was established in 1591. Please, also visit it.
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