MUSEUMS AND COLLECTIONS OF PISAUNIVERSITY: AN ?· tic activity. All disciplines, speculative in character…

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<p>Abstract - After about twenty years of analytical investiga-tions, co-ordinated by a special Commission, updated infor-mation on origin, history and role of museums and collec-tions of Pisa University was produced. Drawing from thisbody of data, a synthesis is here offered about both the inter-esting and complex development of the Institutions, and theillustrious men of arts and sciences who devoted their life toacademic purposes from Renaissance to present days. Starting from the first Botanic Garden in the world in 1543, abrief account is given for each of the 11 units that today con-serve, under rigorous curatorial standards, the milestones ofteaching and research, in both artistic and scientific fields,laid by the Athenaeum in four and a half centuries of history.</p> <p>Key words - Museums, collections, University of Pisa, his-tory.</p> <p>Riassunto - Musei e collezioni dellUniversit di Pisa: unarchivio di arte e scienza. Dopo un ventennio di studiapprofonditi, coordinati da una apposita Commissione, sonodisponibili notizie aggiornate sulla origine, la storia e il ruo-lo dei Musei e delle collezioni dellUniversit di Pisa. Sullabase di questi recenti dati, gli autori presentano una sinteticaricostruzione dellinteressante e complesso sviluppo di que-ste istituzioni e un profilo degli illustri scienziati e artisti chehanno dedicato la loro vita alle attivit accademiche, dalRinascimento ad oggi. Cominciando dal primo Orto Botanicodel mondo (1543), si illustra brevemente ciascuna delle undi-ci unit che oggi custodiscono, secondo rigorosi criteri diconservazione e di cura, le pietre miliari dellinsegnamento edella ricerca, di ambito sia artistico sia scientifico, postedallAteneo in quattro secoli e mezzo di storia.</p> <p>Parole chiave - Musei, collezioni, Universit di Pisa, storia.</p> <p>Holy relics, rare masterpieces, and marbles, andstones of admirable rarity, size and craftsmanship, canhere be found as in no other Italian city.So Michel de Montaigne wrote in 1581 (De Montaigne,1774), during the Pisan stop of his Voyage en Italie.While attesting the citys dimension of century-oldrepository of artistic and antiques memories, thelearned Frenchmen acknowledged Pisas museal voca-tion and identity, already granted by History itself.Pisa as an open museum, therefore, with truly signifi-cant emblems, such as the candid monuments whereart works of diverse cultures united in what was in facta great collection of styles, languages, memories; likethe Cemetery, where holy relics, frescoes, marbles,and stones formed an extraordinary and fascinatinggallery, a nobile Musaeum as will be defined by</p> <p>Atti Soc. tosc. Sci. nat., Mem., Serie B, 110 (2003)pagg. 195-199</p> <p>G. BEDINI (*), F. GARBARI (*), A. TOSI (**)</p> <p>MUSEUMS AND COLLECTIONS OF PISA UNIVERSITY:AN ARCHIVE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES</p> <p>Christine of Sweden in 1658 (Garbari &amp; Tosi, 2002;Milone, 1993) unique in the world; like, also, thechurches, monasteries and palaces, that were the jeal-ous custodians of a less visible, but equally preciouspatrimony of art works, handiworks, clothes and fab-rics, codices, books, naturalistic findings.Because, once left the miracolous square with theCathedral, the Baptistere, and the Leaning Tower, thestreet dedicated to St. Mary marked the beginning ofan itinerary that could impress even the most exactingtraveller. The English Robert Dallington, during histravel in Italy in 1596 (Dallington, 1605), noted aboveall the curiosities conserved in the Gallery of theGarden of Simples: statues, paintings, medals, miner-als, even a coral branch born on a human skull (abizarre artefact still conserved in the Natural HistoryMuseum located in the complex of the famousChartreuse of Calci, near Pisa). Likewise, young grandduke Peter Leopold, who visited Pisa in May 1766,admired the Specola, with its collection of instrumentsof experimental physics, and the Garden of Simples,with its rich Museum of Natural History (Luchetti,s.d.; Burresi, 1999).In the history of Pisan collections, originating fromancient vocation, the University plays a central role.Probably, in the first centuries of life of the PisanAthenaeum, there was no attempt to create museumcollections: from 1343, when the Studium was found-ed, to 1543, when it was finally reopened (Tangheroni,2000; Del Gratta, 2000), no trace is left of collectionsof items aimed at documenting any research or didac-tic activity. All disciplines, speculative in character and taughtaccording to the scholastic system, never involved anydirect contact with natural objects or handiworks todisplay. Hence a knowledge exclusively theoric, pre-venting any attempt to check the real identity of plants,animals, minerals, fossils, artificialia and their possi-ble uses.It is in the modern age that the awareness to be able toorder knowledge develops. When Cosimo I reopensthe Studium, he is faced with the need to satisfy thedidactic requirements posed by the naturalist chargedwith not only the lecture of simples but also their osten-sio, which from a practical standpoint implied the avail-ability of a lot of ground for growing the pharmaceuti-cal plants to show to students. In this requirement isrooted the birth of the first Botanic Garden in history,</p> <p>(*) Dipartimento di Scienze Botaniche, via Luca Ghini 5, I-56126 Pisa, Italy. E-mail:**) Dipartimento di Storia delle Arti, piazza S. Matteo in Soarta 2, I-56127 Pisa, Italy.</p> <p>16 Bedini-Garbari 12-05-2005 16:12 Pagina 195</p> <p>196 G. BEDINI, F. GARBARI, A. TOSI</p> <p>founded by Luca Ghini in 1544, when he came to Pisa,upon invitation by Cosimo I (Garbari &amp; TongiorgiTomasi, 2002). In a letter sent to the grand dukes but-ler, Ghini discloses that the Gardens purpose is to beuseful to students (Chiarugi, 1953), i.e. to serve as adidactic aid for University students of medicine, whohad to learn to recognize the plants the simples whence curative substances were extracted. For thisreason, collections were oriented to medicinal plants,confirming the close links between botany and medi-cine, already strengthened in the medieval tradition ofmonastery gardens (Garbari, 1993), which is likely tohave influenced Ghinis vision, particularly since theoriginal Gardens site was the claustral garden of St.Vito monastery, close to the Arno river, in the west sideof the town (Garbari &amp; Tongiorgi Tomasi, 2002).The birth of the Garden is of primary importance alsofor the development of botany that, from a subsidiarydiscipline to medical sciences, gradually acquires itsown identity. Andrea Cesalpino, Ghinis disciple andGarden Director from 1554 to 1558 and from 1563 to1583, moves the first step in this direction, as for thefirst time in his work De Plantis, published in 1583 atFlorence, the plants are classified based not on theirpharmacological properties, but on the morphologicalcharacters of flowers and fruits, thus laying the foun-dation of modern systematic botany.It is not by chance that the differentiation of didacticcollections corresponded to the transfer of the Gardento another site, near the street presently dedicated to St.Martha (Fischer, 1998).Such a decentralized location, though, will prove inad-equate in consideration of the strong interest that theBotanic Garden aroused also outside the academiccommunity, calling for a more central location, nearthe heart of the citys cultural life.In 1591 the Grand duke Ferdinand I decreed a furthermove near St. Mary Street, where the Garden stillstands today. The new position was shown to fulfil allneeds both of students and researchers, and of citizensand foreign visitors, who found in the Garden a placeof delight, i.e. a place whose beauty and suggestionencouraged serene exchanges of opinions, meditationsand discussions on natures wonders, enclosed in thecollections in the Garden and in the annexed Gallery,a showcase of naturalia and artificialia, and the embry-onic stage of the future Museum of Natural History(Garbari &amp; Tongiorgi Tomasi, 1993).The creator of the third Pisan Garden was the FlemishJodocus de Goethuysen (italianized as GiuseppeCasabona, i.e. Joseph Goodhouse) (Goethuys, 1995;Tongiorgi Tomasi &amp; Garbari, 1991), who enriched theGardens collections with numerous wild species col-lected during his expeditions in Italy and in variousMediterranean countries, particularly in the Island ofCrete. The increase of exotic plants is also due to thenumerous exchanges of seeds and bulbs that he madewith other Italian and European botanists, e.g. with hisfellow-countryman Charles Clusius, director of theBotanic Garden of Leiden in the Netherlands. A Persianplant, Fritillaria imperialis, was sculpted in bas-reliefin the Gardens gate (Tongiorgi Tomasi &amp; Garbari,</p> <p>1995), still conserved in the historic-didactic section ofthe Pisan Garden.Annexed to the Garden of Simples was an assemblageof naturalistic items, exotic objects, paintings, booksand all kinds of curiosities. It was the grand dukesorder that many objects of the Florentine collections betransferred to the Gallery for the sake of study.Gathering and collecting naturalia, especially miner-als, was a daily practice of the prefects in the firstdecades of the Garden: the overwhelming amount ofnaturalistic items versus the curious or exotic objectsclearly emerges in the Gallery inventory compiled in1626 by prefect Matteo Pandolfini, shortly after hisappointment at the Gardens head (Tongiorgi Tomasi,2002).After a period of crisis and impoverishment, the histo-ry of University collections enters into an importantand significant age, following the advent of theLorraines, as successors to the Medici dynasty, whostimulated the sudden onset of a cultural milieu ofextraordinary vivacity. The development of the Studiumin compliance with modern didactic and experimentalrequirements is then matched by a marked interesttowards the young scientific disciplines and, conse-quently, towards the creation of collections increasing-ly linked to new research visions.The purchase of Niccol Gualtieris malacological col-lection, in 1741, promoted by Superintendent GaspareCerati, and the birth of the Natural History Museum inreplacement of the old Gallery in the Garden ofSimples, as well as the establishment of the chair ofexperimental physics and the first teachings ofChemistry, are important signs of a new organizationof scientific knowledge (Tosi, 2002a).The growing prestige of the Garden, which theLinnaean systematic criteria begin to pervade, isaccompanied by the fast development of museum col-lections of natural history, marked by significant pur-chases (for example the tables of Storia naturale degliuccelli by Saverio Manetti, a work printed in Florencein 1767-1776), and characterized by the personalitiesof Giorgio Santi and Gaetano Savi.Under their direction, the Garden gradually lost itsoriginal partition, deeply rooted into the renaissanceconcept of microcosmic re-creation, to acquire a mod-ular layout, more suitable for representing the new sys-tematic theories of the plant kingdom (Garbari &amp;Bedini, 2002). Following this re-arrangement, in 1814, the BotanicGarden (directed by G. Savi) was definitively separat-ed from the Natural History Museum (directed by G.Santi), thus matching the division of the relevant teach-ings (Botany and Plant Physiology, on one side, andMineralogy and Geology on the other), and also puttingon its way the modern history of University collec-tions.Already in 1827, under the guide of young Paolo Savi,more than five thousand animal specimens wereplaced in the Museums rooms, attesting the collec-tions size and quality, which will make the Pisan insti-tution, in the course of the century, one of the mostrenowned in Europe (Tosi, 2002a).</p> <p>16 Bedini-Garbari 12-05-2005 16:12 Pagina 196</p> <p>197MUSEUMS AND COLLECTIONS OF PISA UNIVERSITY: AN ARCHIVE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES</p> <p>In this time, many episodes occur that will leave deeptraces in the history of the town and of its collections.Suffices it to mention the French-Tuscan literaryexpedition to Egypt and Nubia, in 1828-1829, spon-sored by the government of Leopold II and jointly leadby Ippolito Rosellini and Jean Franois Champollion,who not only wrote one of the most exciting chaptersof modern Egyptology, but also pioneered a researcharea which is still documented by the Egyptian collec-tions of Pisa University (Bresciani, 2000).Other significant events, leading to the creation ofnumerous and prestigeous collections, take place in acontext dominated by the First Meeting of ItalianScientists, held in Pisa in October 1839 well in advanceof the national unification and destined to influence toa great extent the very organization of science in thewhole country (Rossi, 1989; Bargagna et al., 1989).So is the foundation of the Veterinarian AnatomyMuseum, whose history begun in 1818 when VincenzoMazza, a veterinarian serving in Napoleons army,arrives to Pisa, while he was in Prince of Canosas ret-inue, and founds a private school in St. Martin Street,also with the help of botanist Gaetano Savi and physi-cian Giuseppe Bianchi. Just three years later, uponMazzas move to Naples, the school was ceased, butteaching was resumed in 1839, this time as a publicschool, with the formal establishment of the chair ofVeterinary, held by Melchiorre Tonelli, within theFaculty of Medicine. Also this attempt failed shortlyafterwards, and the chair was suppressed in 1851.Eight years later, in 1859, following the advent ofMarquis Cosimo Ridolfi to the Ministry of PublicInstruction, the teaching is reinstated within the Facultyof Science; the following year (1860), it is flanked bythe chair of veterinary Anatomy, Physiology andSurgery, entrusted to Luigi Lombardini, who will holdit until his death in 1898.Afterwards, upon the annexation of Tuscan Grandduchy to the Kingdom of Italy, the Royal VeterinarianSchool was created in Savi Street (in the building thatpresently is home to the Otorhinolaringohyatric clinic),where all facilities and equipments of the Veterinarychairs were moved in 1874, separating the veterinarystudies from the Faculty of Sciences. To Lombardini isentrusted the Institute of general and descriptiveAnatomy of domestic vertebrates, furnished withappropriate rooms i.e. dedicated to be a museum forthe conservation and display of anatomical specimens where the preparations made by Lombardini himselfand by his successors Virginio Bossi and Ugo Barpiwere arranged, along with the heirloom from past expe-riences. The preparation of specimens goes on intense-ly in the last part of the XIX century and at the begin-ning of the XX, giving rise to a numerous series ofanatomical pieces representing all domestic species ofmammals, particularly horses, in rich details(Benvenuti &amp; Coli, 2002).Paleethnological collections originated in 1867 withmaterials coming from the excavations made by physi-cian Carlo Regnoli and geologist Carlo DAchiardi ingrottoes situated in Versilia and on Monte Pisano.Specifically, the research took place at Grotta allOn...</p>