Are you thinking about visiting Florence, Italy’s Galileo Museum but you’re not sure if it’s the right choice for you?
Perhaps you’re trying to decide between the Galileo Museum and another Florence museum like the Leonardo da Vinci Interactive Museum or the Accademia.
Or maybe you’ve got small kids with you and you’re wondering if a visit to the Galileo Museum is worth it for your group.
We’re a local family and we love visiting Florence’s museums. Yesterday, my 8-year-old and I made a visit to the Galileo Museum. We’ll give you the scoop on the museum and our experience, why you may want to (or not want to) visit, and tips for your visit.
Andiamo – let’s go!
Galileo Museum Basics
The Galileo Museum (Museo Galileo) in Florence is a multi-story museum dedicated to Galileo Galilei (scientist and astronomer) and it contains an enormous collection of scientific instruments, including:
- A lot of instruments and machines I had to Google
There are explanations in Italian and English and some exhibits have video explanations.
Helpful Tip: Download the museum’s Miniguide and / or App (and bring your headphones) – it’s very thorough and there are text and video sections.
Good To Know in 2023: When we visited, the interactive area was closed. Signs said it’s expected to open in the summer of 2023.
Who Should Visit the Galileo Museum in Florence
If you have an interest in Galileo or historic scientific instruments, you should visit the Galileo Museum.
Those who already have some knowledge of scientific instruments or Galileo will be thrilled with a visit to this museum.
If you’re not interested in Galileo or scientific instruments, you will likely be disappointed.
I visited with my 8-year-old. He had read a few books on Galileo (I’ve linked some below JUMP LINK) and we used one as a guide in the museum. He really enjoyed the visit (and explained a few things to me) and I plan on returning on my own to spend more time in the museum with the app.
I don’t recommend bringing small children – they’ll be bored, and you’ll need to make sure they don’t touch the instruments. I’m glad I didn’t have my two younger kids with me.
Helpful Tip: Be sure to download the app (it’s excellent!) and bring your headphones. I had very little background on these scientific instruments, but I learned a ton with the app (and my son’s book).
Good To Know: This is a quiet museum (especially if you’ve been in the crowded and noisy Uffizi).
How Long to Allow for a Visit to Florence’s Galileo Museum
If you’re a big Galileo fan, you’ll want to allow at least two hours to visit the exhibits. There are multiple floors, and you can also follow along with the museum’s audio guide.
Otherwise, if you just want to see some of the highlights, plan on spending about an hour.
Highlights of a Visit to the Galileo Museum in Florence
There are over 1000 items on display at the museum (and another 4000 not on display), so you’re sure to find something of interest to you. Here are what my son and I loved seeing on our visit:
- Objective lens of the telescope that Galileo used when he discovered the moons of Jupiter!
- Two of Galileo’s telescopes and all of the other telescopes
- Galileo’s middle finger
- Optical illusions
- Globes (celestial and terrestrial)
- Models of baby in womb
- Gigantic armillary sphere
- Finding our zodiac signs on the sundial (outside the museum)
How to Get to the Galileo Museum in Florence
The museum is in the historic center of Florence. It’s just next to the Uffizi, so it’s easy to access for a visit.
The easiest way to arrive is on foot. You can also take a taxi or the bus. You can’t drive up to the museum because it’s in the ZTL.
Galileo Museum Tickets and Logistics
You can find up-to-date info on opening days and hours, ticket prices, and temporary exhibits on the official website.
Bookshop – There is a small bookshop at the entrance. It’s got a nice selection of books and gifts, for both adults and kids.
Food – Eating is not allowed in the museum. There is no café located inside the museum. If you need to have a snack (for example, if you have little kids with you), you can step outside to eat and re-enter with your ticket.
Audioguide – You can download the free museum app to use as a guide. Read it and look at the photos, or use your headphones to listen as you walk through the museum.
Lockers – If you have large bags, backpacks, or coats, you can store them in the free lockers at the entrance (take the key with you while you visit the museum).
Preparing for a Visit the the Galileo Museum
Download the mini guide from the official Galileo Museum website
Listen to the Atlas Obscura podcast on Galileo’s Middle Finger
Read about Galileo (books for adults):
- Galileo Galilei: A Life From Beginning to End
- Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love
- Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and One Scholar’s Search for Justice
Read about Galileo (books for kids):
- Who Was Galileo?
- I, Galileo
- World History Biographies: Galileo: The Genius Who Charted the Universe (National Geographic World History Biographies)
- Galileo for Kids: His Life and Ideas, 25 Activities
Start reading ‘Galileo in Florence’ (in photo above), and finish while you’re at the museum. We worked our way through this book, and it was the perfect way to learn about Galileo in Florence and walk through the museum without getting overwhelmed. If you’re planning on visiting with your kids, I highly recommend it! I think it’s only sold in Italy. You can find it at bookstores in Florence. I bought our copy at the big RED Feltrinelli bookstore in Piazza della Repubblica.
Where to See More Galileo in Florence
Galileo’s House – See where Galileo lived in the hills above Florence (Costa San Giorgio, 19). Note, you can’t enter – just look from the outside.
Basilica di Santa Croce – See the tomb of Galileo inside the church (Piazza Santa Croce).
Galileo Statue – Find the statue of Galileo in the corner of the Piazzale degli Uffizi (Piazza degli Uffizi, close to the Arno).
What to Do Near the Galileo Museum
After your visit to the Galileo Museum, take advantage of your prime location and:
- Visit the Uffizi Galleries
- Climb the Arnolfo Tower
- Visit Palazzo Vecchio
- Walk across the Ponte Vecchio
- Have a Rooftop Aperitivo at Hotel Continentale
- Get a coffee and people watch in Piazza della Signoria
- Get gelato! See Where to Find the Best Gelato in Florence!
- Enjoy the views from the Bardini Gardens.
Visiting the Galileo Museum in Florence with Kids
Strollers – The museum is stroller-friendly. There are elevators between floors and there is plenty of space in the rooms to push a stroller around. The lower-level toilets have a few steps and you’d need to carry your stroller down. It’s best to use the toilet on the 1st floor if you have a stroller.
Toilets and Diaper Changes – There are two toilets in the museum, on the ground floor and the 1st floor. There is not a changing table.
Breastfeeding – There aren’t any places to stop to sit and rest or breastfeed.
Snacks – There aren’t any dining options inside, but you can exit the building to snack or buy something and come back in using your ticket.
Ages – I recommend visiting with kids ages 7-8+, as long as they have an interest in Galileo and/or scientific instruments. Otherwise, I’d skip this museum.
You may want to check
Best Museums in Florence for Kids
Florence with Kids
Galileo Museum FAQ
If you have an interest in Galileo and scientific instruments, plan on spending 1-2 hours in the museum. If you just want to check out Galileo’s telescopes, see his middle finger, and see couple of other things in the museum, you’ll want to allow about an hour. My 8-year-old son, who is interested in Galileo, gladly spent 1.5 hours in the museum.
Yes, there is a small bookshop that sells books and gifts for adults and children.
There are 18 main rooms in the museum, plus an interactive section on the ground floor and a bookshop:
Room 1 – The Medici Collections
Room 2 – Astronomy and Time
Room 3 – The Representation of the World
Room 4 – Vincenzo Coronelli’s Globes (globes)
Room 5 – The Science of Navigation
Room 6 – The Science of Warfare
Room 7 – Galileo’s New World
Room 8 – The Accademia del Cimento: Art and Science of Experimentation
Room 9 – After Galileo: Exploring the Physical and Biological World
Room 10 – The Lorraine Collections
Room 11 – The Spectacle of Science
Room 12 – Teaching and Popularizing Science: Mechanics
Room 13 – Teaching and Popularizing Science: Optics, Pneumatics, Electromagnetism
Room 14 – The Precision Instrument Industry
Room 15 – Measuring Natural Phenomena: Atmosphere and Light
Room 16 – Measuring Natural Phenomena: Electricity and Electromagnetism
Room 17 – Chemistry and the Public Usefulness of Science
Room 18 – Science in the Home
There is a large sundial in the piazza in front of the museum.