Science and Politics: The National Conferences of Italian Naturalists
An Exhibition Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy
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Guide to the exhibition

The inspiration for this exhibition arose out of the exceptional collection of documents connected with the Conferences of Italian Scientists to be found in the library of the Museo Galileo.  It consists of thirty-six large folders containing several thousands of manuscript pages, for the most part unedited.
The on-line exhibition “Scienziati di tutta Italia, Unitevi” (Scientists of Italy, Unite!) places at the disposition of the visitor representative documents for each of the thirteen conferences held.  All of these documents can be freely downloaded in various formats (image, html and soon in pdf).
Under the heading “Inventario documenti di archivo [Inventory of documents from the archive]” a complete catalogue of the manuscripts in the exhibition is provided, which may be consulted on-line or downloaded in the form of a pdf file.  The exhibition also includes the published proceedings of each of the conferences in digital format and, in those cases where they have been conserved in our library, a record of the register of the participants.  Ample space is dedicated to the scientists themselves; under the heading “Partecipanti [Participants]”, in addition to manuscript and published lists of the scientists attending each conference, we have provided biographies and portraits of some of the most prominent among them.
In the section of the exhibition entitled “Documenti [Documents]” the visitor may consult a selection of pages (totaling some 3,500) from nearly four hundred manuscripts contained in the museum’s digital library, as well as more than forty works in their entirety.  These documents have been chosen to reflect the richness and variety of the museum’s collection.
Finally, on display in the section “Materiali celebrativi e iconografici [Commemorative and illustrative material]” is a selection of objects, images, books and documents that were produced to celebrate various important public events connected with the conferences (medallions, monuments, guidebooks, poetry, etc.).  Of particular interest are the guides to the cities hosting the conferences, many of which have been published (some in partial form) by Google Books, and links to these are provided.
Considerable space is devoted to the conferences that were held in Pisa and Florence due to the wealth of related documents in the possession of the museum.  Perhaps the material of greatest value is the corpus documenting the conference held in Venice in 1847, three folders of almost completely unedited material that is being published in complete form (more than 4,500 pages) for the first time on the occasion of this exhibition.
We would like to conclude with a historical note on the conference that was to have been held in Siena in 1848, but which had to be canceled due to significant “military events” (i.e., the First Italian War of Independence, fought in 1848 against the Austrian Empire), as is noted on the spine of the folder.  We have nonetheless included this conference in our timeline, together with a catalogue of the relevant documentation.
This exhibition was organized to mark the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, but also a more modest occasion for pride, the first anniversary of the Museo Galileo.  We will continue with our project of digitalizing the material relating to the history of the Conferences of Italian Scientists, which for reasons of time we have not yet been able to complete, and will post regular updates on the Museo Galileo website as more documents become available for consultation.


Florence, 10 June 2011