Gallileo Discovers the Universe

Galileo’s 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. The exhibition at the Palazzizo Strozzi in Florence 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, sculptures, precious illuminated codices and cosmological models. 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.