Towards the end of the XVI century all over Europe were widespread the so-called Wunderkammern or Raritatkammern (“Chambers of wonders” o “Chambers of rarities”).
Put together by kings, princes and lords fond of science, these collections included every kind of finding, without orders and without any standard but rarity and oddity. The aim of these Wunderkammern was to provide an image of the complexity of the universe, by giving several exempla: right inside them were kept unusual or valuable relics (curiosa), artifacts of several origins and sources (artificialia) as well as findings considered to be representatives of the nature’s reigns (naturalia).
Among the most well-known collections of the time we can mention the ones of Francesco Calzolari in Verona, of Ulisse Aldovrandi in Bologna, of Manfredo Settala in Milano, of Ferrante Imperato in Napoli, of Ole Worm in Copenhagen, of Athanasius Kircher in Roma and, of course, the one belonging to princes, such as Rodolfo I of Asburgo, the Archduke Ferdinando of Tirolo, Alberto V and Carlo V, dukes of Baviera.
The Natural History Museum of the University of Pisa has its roots in the “gallery” annex to the Pisa’s Garden of Simples (the present Botanic Garden), build up towards the end of the XVI century by the will of Ferdinando I dei Medici.
Among the Wunderkammern, the Pisa’s one immediately acquire a peculiar appearance. Because of the strong bond with the University of Pisa, and with the Garden of Simples, it always brings on, as well as the will of raising curiosity typical of the Wunderkammern, a scientific approach to the findings. In the present Museum you can see still exposed several relics named in the inventories of the XVII century.