Today’s blog is by the wonderful Sophie and focuses on the Museum of Zoology in Florence. Sophie has just moved to Sydney where she has started an incredibly colourful photo blog. All photos in this post were taken by Sophie, unless otherwise noted.
The Museum of Zoology in Florence is known as La Specola which means observatory in Italian. The museum opened to the general public in 1775 and is the oldest scientific museum in Europe. Many of the objects on display belonged to the Medici family who ruled Florence for most of the 1400s – 1700s, including their stuffed pet hippo.
Taken from http://scienceblogs.com/
The first 24 rooms are made up a a huge array of taxidermy and insects. Some of the taxidermy is falling apart due to it’s age which makes it more interesting.
One of the nice touches in this section is an empty glass case that you can climb into next to the monkeys so that you become like one of the animals on display.
The next 10 rooms in the museum display the anatomical waxes that the museum has become famous for. These really stand out and are the most striking part of the museum. The waxes were copied from real human corpses and are extremely gruesome and lifelike. They are pieces of art in themselves, all with different facial expressions. Some of the models look like they are still alive and are smiling with their eyes open which was apparently done on purpose to make them less sinister to their audience.
I really liked the framed anatomical drawings on the wall of humans and animals and wouldn’t mind one myself.
The dark blood red floors and pale green walls in this section really enhance the sinister feel of what is on display.
The museum is definitely worth a visit as it is much more interesting than the standard natural history museum as it still retains all the elements of when it first opened. The museum is dark and eerie throughout and is an interesting experience giving an insight into perceptions of nature and science in the 18th century. I really liked the way that the museum was so overcrowded with glass cases packed with so many things to see.
Entry Fee: 4 Euros
Location: La Specola, Museo di Storia Naturale di Firenze, Via Romana, 17 50125 Florence, Italy