Strolling through Science in Turin: a visit to the Science Academy
Last April 8, on the opening day of the new Egyptian Museum of Turin, Nail Spencer -member of the British Museum’s Ancient Egypt department and of the Turin Egyptian museum’s advisory board- said: “Turin has a fantastic collection and an incredible history, and to have it redisplayed in a modern museological way is fantastic”.
It is important to know that the Turin collections were founded in the early 19th century when the Savoy king, Carlo Felice, thanks to the incredible work done by Count Carlo Vidua acquired about 5,000 objects from the French General Consul, Bernardino Drovetti, inspired by the increasing interest in the Egyptian world that Napoleon’s campaigns in the country had sparked.
In 1833, nearly 1,200 objects owned by the Piedmontese, Giuseppe Sossio, were added to the collection, which increased noticeably during the 20th century when the Italian Archaeological Mission obtained more items from Egypt.
However, very few people know that the charming first “house” of the Egyptian Collection was located next to the actual Museum site, in the prestigious Accademia delle Scienze of Turin, in Via Maria Vittoria n.3.
Here you will find a beautiful and overwhelming center of knowledge, which is nowadays more lively than ever.
“We promote high-level culture but recently have also been involved in the disclosure of science and information, for a vast kind of public” as Chiara Mancinelli told us, Chancellor of the Accademia delle Scienze.
We have been told that the Academy traces its origins back to the initiative of Conte Giuseppe Angelo Saluzzo di Menusiglio who began working with the well-known mathematician Giuseppe Luigi Lagrange (1736 – 1813) and Giovanni Cigna, on chemical experiments in 1757.
Two years later, when several other scientists joined them, they published their -Miscellanea Philosophico-Mathematica Societatis Privatae Taurinensis- after which they organized meetings that they modestly called -Accademia Privata-.
Due to the attention produced by the volume, Prince Vittorio Amedeo granted them the title of -Società Reale- in 1761.
On 1783, July 25, King Vittorio Amedeo III placed the group under his special protection and gave it the name of – Accademia Reale delle Scienze-.
Since then, the work of the incredibly fascinating members of the Academy never ceased.
A few names? Well, one must for sure is Charles Darwin – Yes, the great scientist has been one of the members of Turin’s Accademia delle Scienze- together with lots of prestigious scientists, physicists and men of knowledge of Europe and the world.
While wandering up and down the wonderful palace of the Accademia, the Chancellor informed us that: “From 1783 up to today there have been more than 3,000 members of the Academy of Sciences. Over the centuries these have included very different sorts of figures, both by vocation and by conviction. All of them have taken part in the life of the Academy and have contributed to its evolution, to its prestige and to the furthering of its goals, fully in keeping with the motto “Veritas et Utilitas”.
Last but not least, we visited the Library which is a true jewel, containing an excellent collection of historic works in the sciences and the humanities. The library’s patrimony -more than 250,000 books and 5,000 periodicals- grew in large part thanks to donations of scholars and exchanges of periodicals.
The Accademia delle Scienze in Turin supports conferences and congresses all year round and is active in publishing and awarding prizes.