The exposition of the National Museum of the Antarctic – Siena Section (covering a surface area of roughly 250 square metres) has been organized as a thematic itinerary which, starting from exploration and the development of science on the continent, probes the main themes of Antarctic research: geology, glaciology, paleoclimatology, biology, atmospheric and oceanic sciences, thematic cartography.
The Antarctic – Antarktikòs of Greek mythology – Terra Australis Nondum Cognita from the 16th century on, became Terra Cognita only in the 20th century, thanks first to the “heroic phase” of expeditions and then later to the International Geophysical Year (1957-58). The polar regions – and the Antarctic in particular – play a fundamental role in regulating the entire system of the Earth, influencing climate, the ecosystems and the community of living creatures, including human beings.
These historic, political, and scientific aspects of the Antarctic are addressed here through exhibits thatinclude finds, images, bibliographic and cartographic material, and multimedial systems with the aim of offering the educational system and the general citizenry an informational tool to share knowledge and prompt reflection.
Contained within the Museum are more than 20,000 samples of rocks and fossils, and more than 1,000 meteorites collected in Antarctica during expeditions by the National Programme for Antarctic Research. The library holds more than 5,000 titles published from 1840 on, concerning multiple aspects of the polar regions, from international law to Earth Sciences, from preservation of the environment to the sharing of scientific knowledge, from biology to exploration.
Visitors may therefore view Antarctic rocks, minerals and meteorites, touch fossilized tree trunks from 300 million years ago. Through films and interactive stations, they may observe animals living on the continent and in the ocean, and search for meteorites among the blue ice.
The collection of meteorites: with its 1,150 finds, this stands as one of the most important collections in Italy, the third in the world in terms of the number and variety of Antarctic meteorites, following collections in the United States and Japan.
Library of the National Museum of the Antarctic: a collection made up of 5,000 documents, foremost of which are the diaries of famous Antarctic explorers from the early 1900s.
National Museum of the Antarctic “Felice Ippolito”
Complesso Didattico del Laterino
Via del Laterino 8,
Tel. 0577 233793; 0577 233791
from Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm
Tuesday and Thursday, 9am to 1pm and 3pm to 5pm
open by reservation: firstname.lastname@example.org or +39 0577233793.
free 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.