The Museum's Physics equipment

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 museum’s project to raise public awareness of these instruments led to the establishment of a  permanent exhibition in the museum featuring the most important devices, which bear witness to school’s role in the spread of scientific culture, determined by certain illustrious figures and the historical events that affected the Bergamo area.

The website completes and extends the exhibition with a virtual catalogue listing all the instruments belonging to the museum’s collection. In-depth studies involving documentary research, record sheets compiled when some instruments underwent restoration treatment and references to inventories may be seen in the virtual museum.


Consult the catalogue ofphysics devices

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The Physics Cabinet was established in the Collegio Mariano school in the late 1700s at the suggestion of Lorenzo Mascheroni (1750 – 1800), who taught natural philosophy there starting in 1773, that the school should be equipped with devices suitable for teaching experimental physics. In 1784 Giovanni Albrici (1743 – 1816) was taken on as operator and keeper of the instruments; the college purchased a planetarium apparatus that is still kept in the Liceo Sarpi. From then on the Physics Cabinet was continuously enlarged with new devices so that physics teaching could keep up with the latest developments.


The Liceo Paolo Sarpi Physics Cabinet, still housed in the same place since 1853, today contains 450 teaching devices. However, their constant use and consequent wear, or occasional malfunctioning during use, together with the need for space for new purchases, led to the school setting aside about 200 instruments, which in the 1970s were transferred to the nearby Enrico Caffi Civic Natural Science Museum, where they are still kept.