THE FISIOCRITICI MUSEUM
The Museum of Natural History, better known as the Museum of the Accademia dei Fisiocritici, is considered one of the most important museums on this field of study in Italy. Because of in 1996 the museum turns into a member of the Fondazione dei Musei Senesi (the public foundation of Siena’s museums).
Since 1816 it is housed in a beautiful monastery from the XII century, which formerly pertained to the Camaldolese Order, situated in Piazza Sant’Agostino, 5, at a few minutes walking from Prato di Sant’Agostino, a scenic gardened square with some breathtaking panoramic views onto the Valdimontone Valley.
The Museum was founded in 1691 by Pirro Maria Gabrielli (1643-1705), a Sienese nobleman, professor of theory of medicine and botany at the University of Siena and also member of honour of the Imperial Academy of Germany, to which he brought significant research and findings.
The Accademia dei Fisiocritici (the Academy of the Scholars of Nature) was at first hosted in the huge library of the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala, currently one of the principal art galleries in Siena. By 1694 the Accademia was rearranged into the Casa della Sapienza, the original name and former seat of the University of Siena, which nowadays houses the prestigious Municipal Library of the Intronati.
The museum includes the sections of Geology, Zoology, Palaeontology and Anatomy.
For the most part, they are housed in the cloister’s galleries, coordinated on two floors, encircling the splendid courtyard of the monastery, which preserves an original well from the 16th century. The enchanting ambience of the 19th century is preserved by some cabinets of the age where the related practices were carried out.
The collections within the Museum of the Accademia dei Fisiocritici began to increase in the early years of the 18th century mostly thanks to the personal contribution of its founder, Pirro Maria Gabrielli, who succeeded in collecting numerous species of minerals and Tuscan flora. From the mid of the 18th century the collections there hosted greatly augmented due to a good number of privileged endowments coming from the particular collections of some illustrious persons like the Sienese researcher Giuseppe Baldasarri (1705-1785), doctor in medicine, naturalist, mathematic, physic and chemistry, who in 1759 was nominated to hold the chair of Natural Sciences at the University of Siena. Between 1771 and 1785, Baldasarri was the chairman of the Accademia dei Fisiocritici. As well as the ones donated by the Sienese Biagio Bartalini (1750-1822), doctor in medicine and senior manager of the Botanical Garden in Siena from 1782 to 1822. In 1786 he obtained the chair of Natural Sciences at the University of Siena. In 1815 Bartalini became chairman of the Accademia dei Fisiocritici.
Due to the largely southern Tuscany origin of the Musuem’s collections, it constitutes a chief opportunity for observing and studying the nature of the different areas covered by that part of the Tuscan territory since the late 17th until our days.
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What to See
The Cathedrals : Duomo di Siena
Main Monuments : Piazza del Campo , Palazzo Piccolomini
Main Museums : Museo dell' Opera di Siena , Museo dei Fisiocritici
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