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Musei di Palazzo Poggi

University Museums

Via Zamboni 33 - 40126 Bologna (BO)

Phone Musei Palazzo Poggi: +39 051 2099610/398 ; Museo della Specola: +39 051 2095790

Reference maps: C-5

Date of last update: 07/01/2020, 11:20

Carducci Room

The poet Giosuè Carducci was appointed the chair of Italian literature at the Studio of Bologna in 1860. He used to hold his lessons in this room, which was later to take his name and has recently been restored. The statue of Hercules by Angelo Piò, formerly in the courtyard bearing its name and replaced by a cast taken from the original, is now in the room immediately beside it.

Naval and Antiques Maps & Charts Museum

The Museum contains the entire "Geography and Nautical Room" of the Institute of Sciences, composed of precious models of ships dating from the 17th and 18th centuries and geographical maps from the same period. It may seem odd to find a display of ships in a city like Bologna, situated at some distance from the sea in the Po valley. The Institute however created this really fine collection of fleets of warships to study the advanced technology that was essential for European nations if they wanted to maintain their military and political fortunes, commercial security and, therefore, the power of the State. The walls inside the Museum are hung with huge copper-engraved maps enriched around the edges with writing, ornamental motifs, and decorations depicting human, animal and allegorical figures. In spite of science's attempt to reduce the immensity of the world to an accessible form, it did not as yet appear to be detached from beauty and imagination.

Museum of Military Architecture

Luigi Ferdinando Marsili knew that the technical complexities behind the art of war required rigorous training and therefore the "Room of Military Architecture" was planned to be used for military and ballistic exercises. The main part of the Museum hosts plans for fortifications that were designed and built by some of the most eminent Italian, French and German engineers. The paintings on wood, reproducing existing fortresses and strongholds or theoretical fortification systems, stress the importance of the ramparts of defence against the assault and shooting from enemy batteries and are therefore, as a whole, a fundamental instrument for the study of town planning of the time. The second room contains models and designs for artillery, as well as watercolour plates and paintings illustrating Marsili's diplomatic activities.

Museum of Human Anatomy

The Museum contains the 18th century anatomic wax models that once belonged to the Institute of Sciences and include the Ercole Lelli collection, as well as the nucleus assembled by a married couple from Bologna, Giovanni and Anna Manzolini, and various pieces by the famous Florentine wax modeller Clemente Susini. The idea of providing the Institute with anatomic models in wax first came from Cardinal Prospero Lambertini, Archbishop of Bologna, after having seen the first drawings executed by Ercole Lelli (1702-1766), a member of the Clementine Academy and an enthusiastic scholar of anatomy. Lambertini, who became Pope under the name of Benedict XIV, in fact commissioned Lelli in 1742 to carry out a series of wax models that were to offer a complete section of human osteology and myology. The Lelli collection includes eight life sized statues, composed of two nudes, one male (Adam) and the other female (Eve), two skeletons and four myological statues that, starting from the "Scorticato" (skinned figure), show the layers of the muscles at various depths, together with a series of plates illustrating myological and osteological details. Later, Lelli's specimens were added to by others created by Giovanni Manzolini (1700-1755) and his wife Anna Morandi (1714-1774). The Bolognese collection was further enlarged in 1789 with the addition of various works by Florentine wax modeller Clemente Susini (1754-1814), among them the famous little Venus.

Obstetrical Museum "Giovan Antonio Galli"

The Museum, composed of anatomical plates in wax, clay models and surgical instruments, was created by the Bolognese doctor Giovan Antonio Galli (1708-1782) to instruct midwives and surgeons in the art of childbirth. Wishing to fill in the gaps that existed in the field of obstetrics between scientific knowledge and practical know-how, Galli had all these models made at his own expense. Doctors and surgeons in fact possessed plenty of theoretical knowledge, but the midwives, often poorly educated, were the people who assisted women in childbirth, aided only by their personal experience. In 1757, Pope Benedict XIV donated the valuable collection to the Institute and nominated Galli as public professor of Obstetrics. The Museum is a real educational laboratory that was quite unique in 18th century Europe, in spite of the extraordinary progress made by 18th century obstetrics. The wax plates carried out by Galli were intended to provide an introduction to anatomy, while the most consistent nucleus of the equipment, in other words the life-sized models of the uterus shown in the various stages of pregnancy and the different situations regarding the foetus, were made of clay, a less delicate material to manipulate. The obstetrical apparatus placed in the centre of the room allowed students to practice carrying out the principal operations in this Art: a soft model of a foetus was placed inside the glass uterus and the students, who were blindfolded, had then to remove it under the watchful eyes of their teacher.

Museum of Natural History

During the 18th century these rooms contained some of the most fascinating exhibits on display in Palazzo Poggi. Material from other donations was added in the collection in this period, composed basically of the main nucleus of the Aldrovandi and Cospi museum collections, and divided up among the collections assembled by Marsili. About three thousand illustrated plates from the Aldrovandi collection still exist. This collection stood out from others of its type partly for the scientific methods adopted and partly for the way artistic skills were used to aid observation of the world of nature and reproduce it from life. The collection and cataloguing of the natural objects was carried out for educational as well as scientific purposes. The Museum collections are composed of various materials related to the subjects of geology, mineralogy, palaeontology, botany, zoology and comparative anatomy.

Physics Museum

The fame of Institute of Science was due in particular to the large amount and extremely up-to-date equipment in the Physics Department. New materials were added during the century to the initial Marsili donations, composed of useful instruments for studying the physical phenomena connected with astronomy and biology, thanks above all to the patronage of Pope Benedict XIV, who was responsible for the purchase of various instruments of Dutch manufacture and the acquisition of the optical laboratory of Giuseppe Campani, made up telescope and microscope lenses. Cardinal Gioannetti, the Archbishop of Bologna, further enlarged the Museum by purchasing the Lord Cowper collection, one of the most important physics studios of the time.

Museum of Astronomical Observatory (Specola)

The Museum is situated in the rooms that were used for astronomical observation in the old Observatory: the Room of the Meridiana (Sundial), the Room of the Torretta (the Tower), the Room of the Globi (Globes). The first two rooms contain a display of instruments used by the astronomers at the Institute from 1704 to the early 19th century. Among them, the Lusverg semi-circular mural, which could be used to calculate the rise and declination of the stars, and the Campani telescope. The exhibits in the Room of Spheres include globes by Blaeu and an armillary sphere by D. Lusverg, donated by Pope Benedict XIV.

Room dedicated to oriental art
Artworks make part of two Bologna's collections: xylographs of Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna and of Centro Studi d'Arte Estremo-Orientale.
The first collection of Japanese xylographs (of Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna) includes more than 500 woodcuts of important XIX-century Japanese artists such as Hiroshige, Kunisada or Kuniyoshi. Among woodcuts of particular interest, we must mention the luxury theatre woodcuts of Osaka, once unknown but now increasingly appreciated both by critics and the public, or the didactic and playful woodcuts for children that represent a rare collection.
The second collection (of Centro Studi d'Arte Estremo-Orientale) includes 160 xylographs and illustrated Japanese books, more than 170 different objects (bronze and lacquer objects, cloisonné, textiles etc. mainly from Japan and dating back to the XIX century) and 34 Chinese and Japanese paintings. Masterpieces include a large painting by Kanô Taschin (1785-1835), four paintings by Watanabe Seitei (1851-1918) – an artist popular in France during the XIX century - and some masterpieces of known Chinese contemporary artists as Zhang Dali (*1963) or Bo Yun (*1948).

The description is taken from S.M.A. - University Museum System Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna

by bus: lines and timetables on the website www.tper.it

by car: located in restricted traffic zone ZTL. Ring road exits n. 8/8bis-9 and 10 direction city center.

Museo di Palazzo Poggi
• Young people from 19 up to 26
• Over 65
• UNIBO students
• UNIBO employees
• Young people under 18
• School teachers of all levels with card
• Disabled people and their helpers
• Journalists with card
• Tour guides with license
• ICOM cards holders: free admission
• Card Cultura owners: free admission
• Students of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna: free admission
• AIF members (Associazione Italiana Formatori): admission 1€

AGGREGATE: 8€ Museo di Palazzo Poggi + MEUS

further details (in Italian)

Museo della Specola (Museum of Astronomical Observatory)


• UNIBO students
• UNIBO employees
• Disabled people's helpers
• Musei Metropolitani Card owners: free admission

further details (in Italian)

Palazzo Poggi: 
Tuesday to Friday 10.30am - 3.30pm; Saturday, Sunday and holidays 11.00am - 3.30pm. Closed on non-festive Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, August 15th, December 24th and 25th.

Museo della Specola (Museum of Astronomical Observatory): admission with guided visits only upon reservation for maximum 15 people at a time; it is necessary to check always the availability of the spaces.  Hours and booking on the website 

Hearing impediments

The entrance does not present any difficulty for the hearing impaired.
A visual support, e.g. museum map, is needed to orient oneself.
All rooms feature a panel illustrating its history as well as one on the items on display, both marked by plaques with symbols relating to the theme of the room.
The language of the panels is clear but features technical terms so reading them requires good language skills.
The rooms are all different: in some sections have no explanatory labels under the items on display (e.g. the first natural history room) while, in others, the items are described in detail on room labels (e.g. nautical section). The label fonts are also different (some are small, others are clear and easily readable).
Audio and video guides are available as well as artglass augmented reality supports.
Wi-Fi is reserved for University members.
Also available: touchscreen about Carducci (momentarily placed in the break room), videos, interactive projections (currently not working).
There are no means of visual communication in case of emergency both in the bathrooms and in the lift.

Motor disability and mobility issues

The main entrance to the museum is not accessible to visitors with mobility issues due to its steps. There is an alternative entrance in Largo Alfredo Trombetti 4.

When the side access in Largo A. Trombetti is closed, there is a bell at the main entrance placed at 126 cm from the ground to request access from Largo A. Trombetti where the museum on the first floor can be reached by lift with staff assistance.

The rooms can be accessed easily and all the items on display can be viewed perfectly. There may be a few difficulties in some areas only, please refer to the detailed sheet.

Musei di Palazzo Poggi