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Giovanni Paolo Gallucci, Theatrum mundi (Venice, 1588)

Theater of the World

Gallucci, a Venetian scholar, was interested in astronomical instruments, both physical and on paper. The “Theater of the World” features a parade of rotating wheels, or “volvelles,” descendants of the astrolabe. These were paper instruments used to predict the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars.

Gallucci’s star positions, with constellation figures, appear in Book V. Rulers along the borders established a grid for plotting star positions accurately. Gallucci’s book was the first star atlas to do so in both celestial latitude and longitude. The trapezoidal shape of the grid better accommodates the curved surface of a sphere. Gallucci took his star positions from the star catalog of Copernicus. The constellations are the 48 ancient constellations listed by Ptolemy; today, 88 constellations are officially recognized.

Galileo's World Exhibition Location

Source: History of Science Collections

Section: Renaissance of Discovery

Section Number: 1

Object Number: 2

Subject Area(s): Astronomy, Scientific Instruments

Time Period: 16th Century

Region(s): Europe, Italy

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Exhibit Gallery OERs

Wondertooneel: Women and Museums

Wondertooneel Learning Leaflet

What were women doing in the museum? 

Levinus Vincent, a wealthy Dutch merchant with ties to the East Indies, created a spectacular 'Chamber of Wonders' natural history museum in Haarlem. Visiting dignitaries admired his museum, including Peter the Great and King Charles III of Spain. The detailed depictions of interior spaces include figures of women engaged in a variety of activities. Museums such as Vincent's offered women opportunities for participation in the natural sciences as donors, collectors, discoverers, visitors, patrons, lecturers and curators. This OER explores the significance of women in these early museums.


Maria Merian: World-Traveling Entomologist

Maria Merian Learning Leaflet

How do art and travel benefit natural history? 

Maria Merian (1647-1717), skilled in both art and natural history, studied the relationships between flowers and insects. She conducted field expeditions around the world, carried out research in gardens and museums, and produced detailed sketches and beautiful paintings, and even bred insects to aid in her entomological investigations.