The Natural History Museum of the Accademia dei Fisiocritici in Siena is considered one of the oldest and most important science museums in Tuscany. Housed in a former Camaldolese monastery, it is organized into four sections, preserving a layout very similar to that of the 19th century.
The exhibit groups naturalistic and historical materials, as well as period instruments and curiosities, and occupies the building's two floors, a large basement and a mezzanine level. The prominent exhibit in the collection is certainly the 15-meter-long whale skeleton: located in the inner courtyard, it has in fact become the museum's emblem.
The rich Zoological Section includes specimens of vertebrates stuffed and mounted in natural positions, as well as shells and insects. Notable are the collections of birds and mammals, of 3,000 and nearly 700 specimens respectively.
Visitors can then admire numerous minerals, rocks and fossils in the Geological Section, from all over the world to represent the great global geodiversity. The Anatomical Section on the mezzanine floor, on the other hand, focuses on the Tuscan scientist Paolo Mascagni, who lived at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Considered the first anatomist to describe the lymphatic system in depth, Mascagni created a substantial collection of scientific papers and materials, currently on display here.
Curious in the Botanical Section are Francesco Valenti Serini's terracotta mushrooms and his herbarium of lichens. To close the visit, some interesting archaeological finds are on display, including Etruscan cinerary urns recovered in Asciano and Val d'Orcia. They can be seen arranged in the basement, which has been scenographically set up to represent an Etruscan tomb.
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