Museum of Nature and Man, the university's large science museum, opens in Padua

In Padua, the Padua University Institute of Natural Sciences' Museum of Nature and Man was inaugurated in recent days: thousands of exhibits on display to the public, and divided over four sections, make it the largest university science museum in Italy.

In Padua , the new Museum of Nature and Man, the natural science museum of theUniversity of Padua, opened its doors on June 23. This is the largest university science museum in Italy: a journey through time that continuously relates human beings and nature, recounting the complexities of planet Earth through a selection of the heritage of 200,000 naturalistic and anthropological artifacts built up over the centuries by the University of Padua, in a pathway that spans 3 floors and nearly 4,000 square meters of exhibition space.

The museum, the main permanent legacy left to the city by the University of Padua’s nineteenth-century celebrations, finds space in the restored premises of Palazzo Cavalli: the museum’s four sections (Mineralogy, Geology and Paleontology, Zoology and Anthropology) are integrated into a coherent scientific narrative with a multimedia and interactive layout.

The new museum was created by merging the extremely rich naturalistic collections that have been built up for centuries by scholars and explorers at the University of Padua for research and educational purposes. Some 3,500 items are on display, of more than 3,200 items restored for exhibition, 25 tactile models in the zoology section. Alongside the more than 190 showcases, there are 89 multimedia and exhibits, mixing the most advanced contemporary languages of scientific exhibits.

The museum is located in front of the Scrovegni Chapel, in a symbolic dialogue between knowledge and the arts: the Museum of Nature and Man aims to be the flagship project of a scientific museum ecosystem spread throughout the city, whose path connects the museum with Palazzo del Bo, the UNESCO World Heritage Botanical Garden and the network of university museums, making Padua a unique case in Italy and Europe.

The venue, Palazzo Cavalli, is a historic building built in the second half of the 16th century near the Porte Contarine. Beginning in the late 19th century, the Palazzo was gradually expanded to meet the needs of the University of Padua, until it formed a complex surrounding a large inner courtyard on all four sides. The design of the Museum allowed the various bodies to be harmonized so as to facilitate the internal path. Already a few years after its construction rose to the headlines for the heinous murder of Vittoria Accoramboni, Palazzo Cavalli was erected in the mid-16th century by the family of the same name, which lived there for more than two centuries. The sixteenth-century structure shows a balanced distribution of rooms, which correspond between the first and second floors, where the two T-shaped “porteghi” disobligate in the side rooms, homogeneous on the two fronts. The splendid fresco and stucco decoration, still preserved, dates from the mid-17th century. Astonishing is the decorative profusion of the atrium with the cycle dedicated to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, while in the adjoining rooms, each expertly varied in subject and style, the Paduan fresco painter Michele Primon depicted episodes inspired by ancient history, as well as the exciting series of hunts in the room formerly used as a dinette. The monumental staircase, the work of Bolognese masters, represents a spiritual ascent to the main floor accompanied by the Muses. We then enter the large reception hall, overlooked by the master bedrooms, skillfully frescoed by the French painter Louis Dorigny: the large panels feature mythological subjects; the monochrome upper frieze shows a triumph of cupids.

The museum tour touches on several themes: the journey to the center of the Earth, with an immersive multimedia installation guiding the public to the heart of our planet; the section on marine animals , which is housed in a Sea Room with skeletons and taxidermies of sharks, fish, cetaceans, seals and turtles; and the section on birds, the history ofanthropology and its past drifts, the Hall of Palms housing fossils of plant species with large palms from sites in the Veneto region, the Hall of Minerals, the Hall of Parasites, the section onOceania and great explorations, the Hall of Meteorites, the section on Ledro pile dwellings , and much more. For all information you can visit the museum’s website.

Museum of Nature and Man, the university's large science museum, opens in Padua
Museum of Nature and Man, the university's large science museum, opens in Padua

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