HISTORY AND ORIGINS OF THE PHYSICS CABINET
The Gabinetto di Fisica was created by Filippo Corridi, the Istituto Tecnico Toscano’s first Director, who equipped it with a remarkable collection of instruments as a necessary support to the very ambitious teaching programmes: “in order to promote the study of the sciences of application and the progress of the useful industries of the arts and of work procedures.”
Thanks to its variety and completeness, the Gabinetto di Fisica is a one-of-a-kind collection and constitutes the most lively and significant testimony of the Collections belonging to the Istituto Tecnico Toscano. Ever since its founding (in 1853), the Gabinetto has been equipped with “whatever may be needed especially for the school’s demonstrations and for the most delicate experiments. Among the many useful instruments, the Perreaux cathetometer, a Regnault eudiometer, the Natterer machine for the liquefaction of gases, the Duboscq large optical bench for the projection of luminous phenomena, and the Ruhmkorff induction machine; the Babinet photometer, the Wheatstone wave-machine, the Duboscq apparatus for projecting fantascopic designs; and the Amici microscope are worthy of mention”. A plethora of instrumentation exists for producing the energy necessary for the experiments: “a large stack of ninety Bunsen-type elements, forty of which were made by Carraresi, the Florentine chemist, and fifty by Deleuil, a Parisian manufacturer”.
From the moment that classes began there (1857), thanks to Gilberto Govi, the first teacher of Technological Physics, and above all to the success of his evening lessons, the Gabinetto was continually enriched by new pieces of equipment necessary to the study of experimental physics These were built in the Machine Workshop of the Istituto or acquired from the most renown French, German and British makers who, at the time, were capable of producing the best scientific instruments on the market.
The Gabinetto subsequently grew in consistency under the impulse of the gifted teachers who succeeded each other (Emilio Villari, Antonio Roiti, Adolfo Bartoli, Eugenio Bazzi), who were almost all members of the Accademia dei Lincei.
But it was thanks to the work of Antonio Roiti that the Gabinetto di Fisica became a place of excellence for the teaching and experimentation of physics in Florence, a role that it maintained until the first decades of the last century.