The library – in existence since the foundation of the Museum in 1930 – consists of a collection of modern books on the history of science that has since then been continually updated and the antique Medici-Lorraine Collections, previously housed in the Reale Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale in the Palazzo Torrigiani. In addition, the Museum inherited an important archive of documents pertaining to the history of science in Tuscany since the end of the 18th century. In 1966 the library was situated on the first floor of the Palazzo Castellani and was therefore spared the worst. However, some volumes which were on display together with other exhibits in glass cases on the ground floor suffered severe damage. Full documentation of the flood and its consequences, including the complex efforts required to save the exhibits, is conserved in the archives.
A room on the ground floor was dedicated to the Sienese anatomist Paolo Mascagni (1755-1815), who worked for a time at the Reale Museo di Fisica e Storia Naturale in Florence. The exhibit was curated by the scholar Federico Allodi (1900-1967), who had himself donated many objects to the Museum – anatomical models, chalcographic plates, a portrait, and some books, including a copy of Mascagni’s Anatomia universale, printed in Florence in 1833. Fished out of the mud some days after the flood, this magnificent volume with its 150 engravings, some of them coloured by hand, was considered to be beyond repair. It finally underwent restoration in 2015, thanks to grants from the regional government of Tuscany and private donors. In the first phase of the cleaning process, the conservators removed no less than a kilo of sediment from the book’s pages.