Galileos first celestial discoveries date to exactly 400 years ago, and to mark this fourth centenary the United Nations has declared 2009 the International Year of Astronomy. Florence has decided to pay homage to the human and intellectual epic of one of its most ingenious sons with a lavish and spectacular exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi
through August 30, 2009: Galileo. Images of the Universe from Antiquity to the telescope.
The exhibition proposes a journey through time and space that begins with the mystical and poetic visions of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. It then moves on to the Greek cosmogonies, characterised by the ingenious homocentric spheres of Eudoxus, through the planetary architectures of Ptolemy and Arab astronomy, revoking the Christian interpretations and finally arriving at the heliocentric theories of Copernicus that inspired Galileo and Kepler, the scholars who together with Newton made a decisive contribution to the definitive consolidation of the new concept of the universe.
Enhanced by multimedia creations and intriguing informative videos, the itinerary is illustrated by archaeological finds, ingenious and beautifully-fashioned scientific instruments, celestial atlases, paintings (spectacular frescoes from Pompeii never shown before, in addition to Botticelli, Rubens and Guercino), sculptures, precious illuminated codices and extraordinary specially-built working cosmological models. Among the most spectacular exhibits are the monumental astronomical tapestry of Toledo, the Farnese Atlas, the mysterious painting Linder Gallery Interior, displayed here for the first time, and Galileos telescope.
The exhibition also explores the universe of human hopes and fears, investigating the relationship between astronomy and astrology, and the correlations that have always been imaginatively drawn between the configurations of the stars, on the one hand, and power, music, medicine and the development of individual character and tendencies on the other, through to the extraordinary fascination that cosmology has always exerted on architecture and art.