Coming in part from the thousand-year-old Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala, seat of the Faculty of Medicine, and from university institutions, the Sienese collections of old medical instruments attest to the important role of the Sienese Athenaeum in scientific research and education, particularly in the field of health.
The University of Siena has been involved for more than two decades now in the activities of what was then called the Centro per la Tutela e la Valorizzazione dell’Antico Patrimonio scientifico (CUTVAP) ― Centre for the Tutelage and Enrichment of Ancient Scientific Heritage ― known todays the SIMUS Centre, engaging in a systematic commitment to collecting, safeguarding, cataloguing, photographing, restoring, and preserving scientific equipment. It has therefore dedicated two sites to its own collections of historic medical instruments, and to many others that were privately donated. One site is an exhibition space in the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena, with a selection from the most important medical collections, and the other is a storage facility of medical instruments for the purpose of study and research, located in the scientific compound of San Miniato.
The Museum of Medical Instruments also promotes guidance orientation, training and update initiatives on cultural heritage, especially within the realm of science, in close collaboration with the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione (Central Institute for Cataloguing and Documentation). Furthermore, the Museum conducts activities of scientific verification for cataloguing agencies, and it is committed, thanks to its own collections, to apprenticeship training and the sharing of knowledge within the medical sciences, paying particular attention to university students from the Faculty of Medicine and from schools at all levels (ESCAC Project).
The Museum System of the University of Siena (Sistema Museale dell’Università di Siena—SIMUS) is the tangible result of centuries of study and research carried out in and around Siena. The System constitutes a summa on the evolution of thought, scientific or otherwise, through collections of tools, finds, educational models, memorabilia and archival documents. Thanks to the passionate commitment of researchers and university staff, museum resources of this sort continue in the present day to provide an effective educational tool to be used in teaching and disseminating knowledge.
The collection of instruments used in gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics: instruments, equipment and teaching models that retrace the evolution of disciplines related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Museum of Medical Instruments (Museum System of the University of Siena)
Via Pier Andrea Mattioli, 4/b
Tel. 0577 235469 / 70
Polo Scientifico di San Miniato
Via Aldo Moro, 2
Tel. 0577 235468 – 235469 – 235470
Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9.30am to 1.30pm
guided visits available
“In the fiery and concentrated beauty of Siena there is an artificial note that recalls a city perched atop a hill in an old painting. From the fortifications one views the entire city, the white and brown houses, with brown-hued roofs and smooth façades pierced by multiple windows. […] All around reigns the peace of a green world, now sloping down into valleys strewn with red earth and veiled by the gray mist of the olive trees, with cypresses reaching darkly into the sky, now rising into hills”. (A. Symons, 1907)
In Siena, the flavor, the taste, the view of the city are still the same as those evoked by the words of the English poet who visited and certainly fell in love with the place more than a century ago. Siena sits composedly, perched on its hills. Move away just a little, and you can take it in all at once, the unmistakable skyline of its elongated silhouette, its walls, the Torre del Mangia and the dome of the Cathedral. And it is not even so different, in certain glimpses, from the way its most beloved painters depicted it in the 1300s and 1400s, from Lorenzetti to Simone Martini, from Sano di Pietro to Vecchietta.
The city’s sensual and harmonious relationship with the landscape that surrounds and protects it is also fundamentally unchanged. The hills, cypresses, red earth and olive trees can be reached on foot by walking out through the ancient gates, or else still inside the city, in the protected and precious green valleys that have remained within the walls.
With its slow, almost dreamlike way of life, Siena should be visited calmly, for it needs to be savoured unhurriedly. Stroll through Siena and let yourself be guided by curiosity. Slip into the alleys, look for quiet hidden places, explore a museum, a church or a beautiful palazzo.