Rare 17th Century Celestial Globe at Museo Galileo in Florence restored thanks to Friends of Florence

Museo Galileo

January 2021


Dedicated to the rulers of the United Provinces of Belgium, the celestial globe made by Jodocus Hondius Jr. and Adriaen Veen in 1613 shows stars observed by Tycho Brahe and the Antarctic stars recorded by Pietre Dierchsz Keyser and Frederick de Houtman.

Florence, Italy, November 23, 2021…The Museo Galileo in Florence unveiled its newly restored celestial globe of by Hondius Jr. and Adriaen Veen in 1613. The eight-month restoration of the wood and papier-mâché globe—including research and scientific analysis—was made possible by Friends of Florence thanks to a generous gift from Catharin Dalpino who dedicated it to her father, Lt. Col. Milton DalPino. The project was conducted by the Officina del Restauro under the scientific direction of the Museo Galileo and under the supervision of the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio per la Città Metropolitana di Firenze e le Province di Pistoia e Prato.

The project was presented in 2020 at the 5th edition of the Friends of Florence Restoration Prize Salone dell’Arte e del Restauro. The restoration has resulted in the recovery of perfect legibility of the constellations, their identifications, a portrait of Tycho Brahe beneath the constellation Cetus, and other decorative elements while also providing an opportunity to explore its construction in depth. “The Museo Galileo is a truly fascinating institution, presenting documents and instruments in its collections to illustrate the extent to which the Tuscan court promoted modern science in the days of the Medici and the House of Lorraine,” said Simonetta Brandolini d’Adda, President of Friends of Florence. “Its rooms tell us stories that are crucial parts of our culture. The restoration of the celestial globe, the first project that our Foundation has sponsored in the museum, has been a truly astonishing experience in the field of conservation, confirming the inextricable bond that exists between art and science. On behalf of the Friends of Florence, I thank Catharin Dalpino for supporting the work, the Museo Galileo for offering us the opportunity to preserve an item testifying to the universality and beauty of science, the Soprintendenza for guiding us in this project, and the restorers for their meticulous, painstaking labors.”

Professor Francesco Saverio Pavone, President of the Museo Galileo, remarked, “The museum is delighted and honored to have provided the opportunity for this important initiative, made possible not only by Friends of Florence and donor Catharin Dalpino, but also by the restorers who, provided us with new information regarding the globe’s design and construction. I truly hope that this synergy between institutions, along with the expertise provided by the museum and the Soprintendenza, can be repeated in the future in connection with other invaluable works.”

Friends of Florence’s collaboration with the Museo Galileo is continuing with the restoration of the Map Room in Palazzo Vecchio and of Egnazio Danti’s terrestrial globe on display. The museum is going to supply the historical and scientific expertise required to ensure that the restoration is performed correctly and to produce a virtual reconstruction both of the room as designed by Giorgio Vasari and of the globe which has been badly damaged by the restoration processes to which it has been subjected since the late 16th century. A dedicated website will allow online visitors to explore the globe and the room as a whole in a virtual environment.

Friends of Florence is a non-profit foundation supported by individuals from around the world who are dedicated to preserving and enhancing the rich cultural heritage of Florence and Tuscany and conserving irreplaceable artistic and cultural treasures. Friends of Florence identifies significant projects spanning centuries in need of restoration, secures funding, and works in collaboration with local authorities to complete projects.

Since its founding in 1998, the Foundation has raised and donated $10 million for conservation projects in the region. Friends of Florence works directly with Florence’s famed conservation laboratories to ensure restoration is done at the highest level, has the approval of the City of Florence and the Italian Ministry of Art, and is completed on time and on budget.

Through its work, Friends of Florence creates opportunities for the study and appreciation of paintings, sculptures, architectural elements, places of worship, and collections at the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia, the Baptistry, the Piazza della Signoria, the Museum of San Marco, and dozens of other museums, churches, and public sites.

A model of high-impact, low-overhead philanthropy, Friends of Florence is the primary source of funding for the city’s conservators, a respected partner with museums and cultural authorities in Italy and the U.S., and a publisher/producer of publications, multimedia offerings, seminars, lectures, and cultural travel opportunities. For more information, visit its newly designed website at www.friendsofflorence.org.

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