Geology and Paleontology
The collections of rocks and fossils coming to Florence from Tuscany and the rest of the world for over four centuries (more than 300,000 specimens) belong not only to the history of the Museum and the city but also to that of science in general. These specimens allow us to trace the birth and growth of geology as a historical discipline (beginning in the second half of the 16th century and culminating in the early decades of the 19th century) through the hills and mountains of Tuscany and by means of the private and grand-ducal collections of Florence, the city emblematic of the Renaissance.
Indeed the elements to reconstruct a fascinating history can easily be found in the Museum’s exhibits and storerooms: the shells from Tuscan hills described by Leonardo da Vinci, the fossils that belonged to Nicolas Steno, the grand-ducal collections and those of Giovanni Targioni Tozzetti studied by Georges Cuvier, the Central Paleontology Collection established by Igino Cocchi to serve geology in a finally united Italy, as well as the collections made during the ambitious explorations of the Kingdom and then the Republic of Italy. The geology and paleontology collections attest to Florence’s role in a forgotten cultural revolution: the discovery of deep time.
Head of the Geology and Paleontology Section: Stefano Dominici