The Physics Cabinet of the University of Padua. At the crossroads between Veneto and Europe

Fanny Marcon,

Giulio Peruzzi,

Sofia Talas


At the beginning of the eighteenth century, new lectures in natural philosophy based on direct and immediate demonstrations began to spread through Europe. Within this context, a chair of experimental philosophy was created at the University of Padua in 1738, and the new professor, Giovanni Poleni, established a Cabinet of Physics, which became very well known in eighteenth- century Europe. In the following two centuries, Poleni’s successors continued to acquire thousands of instruments used for teaching and research, which today are held at the Museum of the History of Physics of the University of Padua. The present paper describes the main peculiarities of the collection, comprising instruments from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. We also discuss the current acquisition policy of the museum, aimed at collecting material evidence of the research and teaching activities in physics that are carried out in Padua today. We will outline both the local peculiarities of the collection and its international dimension, based on the contacts that have been established throughout the centuries between Padua and the international scientific community. Some aspects of the circulation of scientific knowledge in Europe and beyond will thus also emerge. 

Słowa kluczowe: scientific instruments from 16th to 21st century, teaching and research devices, circulation of knowledge, physics, astronomy / instrumenty naukowe od XVI do XXI wieku, przyrządy dydaktyczne i badawcze, obieg wiedzy, fizyka, astronomia

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