The extensive and heterogeneous collections that were formed during the 19th century and conserved by the Institute, today represent a unique and precious patrimony in the field of the history of science which, as such, requires the prerogative of guaranteed protection over time, as well as an appropriate enhancement of the objects constituting it.
The general climate of disinterest in regard to scientific museology that was dominant for a good part of the second half of the 20th century had a negative influence also on the collections of the Fondazone Scienza e Tecnica. Having remained forgotten for several decades, these had suffered mechanical damage and considerable deterioration due to dust and to parasitic infestations. Despite these difficulties, this naturalistic patrimony managed to “survive” this dark period almost in its entirety and, starting in the 1980s with the new and growing interest for museum realities, a long and patient work of restoration was begun, aimed at reorganising all the collections present, conserving them over time, and enhancing them. In particular, the activity, which is still under way, is aimed at reorganising the individual collections, involving the samples in conservative restoration, revising and subsequently computerising the cataloguing, and lastly caring for and handling the material gradually re-evaluated over time.
Among the various naturalistic findings, with the exception of the copious lithological and mineralogical collections, which were among the first to be reorganised and restored, thanks to a collaboration with the University of Florence, priority has been given to items with an animal and vegetal origin, since these can deteriorate more easily and are in need of periodic monitoring. Thus, for example, among the collections already rescued are those of the exemplars involving taxidermy, the zoological series conserved in liquid, the osteological nucleus and the palaeontological nucleus, the numerous herbals, the xylological findings, the collection of carpoids, and a small part of the androcyte collection.
A precise intervention methodology was used for each typology of material, and this was always appropriately preceded – as far as the findings conserved in dry form were concerned – by a phase involving the removal of infesting agents with the use of repeated cycles of cryodisinfestation.
The restored material has been placed in adequately treated locations that are characterised by appropriate microclimatic conditions, in order to guarantee them the most correct conservation possible in line with the opportunities that the structure is capable of offering.