The original endowment of the Museo Tecnologico consisted of scientific material that belonged to the Technical Schools of the Arts and Craftsmanship class of the Academy of Fine Arts, as well as of the gifts received on the occasion of the first Tuscan exhibitions (1839-1847).
Many products for the Istituto were donated by exhibitors to Professor Filippo Corridi, founder of the Istituto and promoter of the Tuscan exhibitions of 1850 and 1854, as well as the Tuscan representative at the international fairs of London (1851) and Paris (1854). Moreover, Corridi also acquired many pieces of equipment, machinery and instruments, together with natural and manufactured products coming from various European countries, during the said London and Paris fairs.
At the moment of the solemn inauguration of classes, which took place in 1857, the Technological Museum constituted the true driving hub of the Istituto’s activity. Indeed, the Statute declared explicitly: “The various collections of objects that could be advantageous to the technical instruction of the Institute’s students, of manufacturers, merchants, and of those persons who would very much like to become acquainted with useful applications of the sciences, are housed in the Museo Tecnologico.
This Museum includes:
- machinery and equipment for scientific use,
- machinery and equipment for technical use,
- machinery and equipment for domestic use,
- instruments and tools for artisan use,
- models and designs of any sort of object in the preceding categories and also of buildings intended for work procedures of all kinds;
- the collection of models and designs for the study of descriptive geometry and technological design,
- the special collection of Tuscan minerals useful for the arts,
- the foreign mineralogy and geology collection,
- the collection of Tuscan and foreign organic products,
- the collection of various treatises on work processes,
- the collection of metallurgical products.“
A lot of material arrived at the Institute also following the first Italian national exhibit, which was held in Florence in 1861, donated by exhibitors to the new Director, Vincenzo Amici, he too appointed as manager of the Exhibit. Gifts continued to arrive at the Istituto from Italian and foreign producers, and the entire part of the material consisting of natural, manufactured and industrial products contributed to enriching the high quality of the objects already housed at the Museo Tecnologico.
Towards the end of the 1860s, the collection of machinery, models of machinery, models of work machines, and what ever else had to do with mechanics, came to constitute – under the direction of Niccola Collignon – the basis for the scientific collections of the impressive Mechanics laboratory.
Subsequently, the Museum’s collections relative to Natural History were once again organised thanks to a lengthy work of classification that, starting in 1870, ended only in 1885 when, under the direction of Professor Pietro Marchi, the Cabinet of Natural History was set up with the Museo Tecnologico annexed. The latter, having been stripped of its original prodigious collection, contained only treatises on manufacturing work processes, which were housed in a large hall called the Sala delle Industrie inside the Gabinetto di Storia Naturale.