Medici Patronage of Science and Natural History, 1537-1737:
Department of Special Collections
July 9 - October 26, 2007
In 1610 Galileo Galilei published an account of his discovery of moons orbiting Jupiter. In the hope of gaining financial support, he named these the Medicean Stars after Cosimo II de’ Medici, grand duke of Tuscany. While this may be the best-known instance of Medici patronage of scientific inquiry, it was neither the first nor the last. From the time that Cosimo I became duke of Florence in 1537, members of the Medici family supported the study of nature and inquiry into the workings of the universe.
Using books of science and natural history, often lavishly illustrated, the exhibit in the Department of Special Collections (976 Memorial Library) traces the financial and intellectual support provided by the grand dukes of Tuscany to members of their courts and to scholars working throughout Italy. Viewed in tandem with the exhibition Natura Morta: Still-Life Paintings and the Medici Collections on display at the Chazen Museum of Art August 25 to October 21, 2007, Under the Medicean Stars highlights the interests of the Medici in both artistic and scientific endeavors.
This illustrated exhibit checklist, like the exhibit in Special Collections it documents, explores themes of botany and materia medica, matters of animals and generation, the Accademia del Cimento, Galileo and his students (and their students), mathematics, water and its management, and poetry as an example of the versatility of those whom the Medici supported. Unless otherwise indicated, all books are from the holdings of Special Collections. Larger images will shortly be added to the checklist.
Meghan Doherty served as guest curator for the library exhibit; this illustrated checklist is the work of Meghan Doherty, Sarah Boxhorn, and Robin Rider.
For information about using images contained in this online exhibit, see Permissions.