The physics instruments kept in Bergamo’s Museo Enrico Caffi come from the Physics Cabinet of the Liceo Paolo Sarpi. This school originated from the old Collegio Mariano, a prestigious scholastic institution that over the course of Bergamo’s history has had various different names; during French rule it was the Liceo Dipartimentale, becoming the Liceo Paolo Sarpi in 1869, when Bergamo came under the dominion of the House of Savoy.
The Museo Enrico Caffi’s project to valorize historical scientific instruments began in 1998, when the first inventory of the material kept in the museum was prepared by Laura Serra, author of the Catalogue of the Instruments in the Physics Cabinet of the Liceo Sarpi, Bergamo.
The study and cataloging of these instruments has increased public awareness of the entire collection of the Physics Cabinets of the Collegio Mariano and the Liceo Sarpi, highlighting their abundance.
The presence in Bergamo since the 18th century of schools equipped with teaching laboratories, which acquired new instruments in the following centuries, is a clear indication of the importance in Bergamo’s scientific cultural development of teaching the experimental sciences.
The Enrico Caffi Museum, a scientific institution involved in the dissemination and teaching of science, began in 2014 to develop its collection so as to bring to light this important evidence regarding the history of scientific culture – and science teaching in particular. The project brought the recording of the instruments, along their cleaning and small repairs, and today most of these instruments seem to be in a good state of conservation; the photographic documentation of the objects, the realization of the “Stupire, Incuriosire, Spiegare” exhibit, the realization of the website www.fisicaalmuseo.it .
Implementation of the project has been funded by Lovato Electric SpA, a company that has been designing and manufacturing electrical devices since 1922 and is keenly aware of the importance of the instruments in the collection, which are fundamental for understanding the development of civil and industrial electrical devices.