Museum Shows Off Galileo's Fingers

Body parts of scientist their top exhibit
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2010 2:40 PM CDT
In this image provided by Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze shows a finger attributed to Galileo Galilei.   (AP Photo/Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenze/ho)
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(Newser) – Florence’s Galileo Museum will reopen this week with a prized, albeit mildly grisly, new exhibit: two fingers, a thumb, a tooth, and a vertebrae that supposedly belonged to the legendary scientist. According to the museum’s director, the body parts were taken off Galileo Galilei’s corpse by masons during his belated burial ceremony—the church forbid his burial on consecrated ground until 95 years after his death.

“They thought that having a piece of the man would have been a homage to his tradition,” the director tells the Daily Telegraph. “The idea of having relics of science is very similar, is a mirror of, the relics of religion.” Since then they’ve passed from collector to collector, until in October they were unwittingly purchased by a Florence art collector, amongst a lot of unidentified artifacts. He noticed Galileo’s seal, and tests confirmed that the body parts within were his.

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