The Museum of Natural History of the University of Florence, founded in 1775 by the Grand Duke Peter Leopold, is the oldest scientific museum in Europe. Firenze University Press opens the series dealing with the six sections of the Museum with this book on La Specola, situated in Palazzo Torrigiani, which represented the original nucleus.
The articles in the first section reconstruct the historic background, the foundation of La Specola and the genesis and development of the collections. The second part considers the anatomical waxes, the entomological collections, and those of the vertebrates and the invertebrates, with a view to providing a description of the precious specimens that is at once precise and accessible. Finally, the third section completes the picture, retracing the important research activity that has accompanied the history of La Specola and reporting on the scientific projects in which the personnel are engaged. The largest collection in the world of anatomical wax models and the vast zoological collection are illustrated by the people directly involved in the related research, and by a superb selection of original photos produced specially for this publication.
Giulio Barsanti, is a member of the International Academy of the History of Science and Professor of History of Science at the University of Florence. His publications include a history of systematics, La scala, la mappa, l'albero (Sansoni 1992), and a history of evolutionism, Una lunga pazienza cieca (Einaudi 2005).
Guido Chelazzi, is Professor of Ecology at the University of Florence and Vice-Chancellor for scientific research and technology transfer. He is also a Past President of the Società Italiana di Etologia. He has recently published the book Ecologia: dagli organismi agli ecositemi (CEA, 2004) in addition to numerous articles on ecoethology, biomonitoring in fresh water and terrestrial ecosystems, ecophysiology and ecotoxicology that have appeared in the most prestigious specialist international journals.