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.