Photographic Archive


The Museums’s photographic archive preserves a cultural heritage of about 40 thousand images - protected by acid-proof paper and digitized for ease of use.

The oldest core of shots is due to the founder of the Museum, Paolo Mantegazza, experimenter in photography for anthropological purposes. Scientifically remarkable are the photographs on the "expressions of pain", taken after having caused suffering to an actor: real proofs of cinema, when cinema did not yet exist.

Other photographs were taken during Stephen Sommier's travels in Lapland and in the lands of the Russian Empire, as well as by Odoardo Beccari, Enrico Giglioli, Elio Modigliani and Lamberto Loria. More recent are the photos of Lidio Cipriani in Africa, and those donated by Maria Teresa Capobianchi, Maria Anna Ruffo from Calabria and Fosco Maraini – an ethnologist but also a photographer with an excellent sense of aesthetics.

Learn more on the Photographic archive (English text at the bottom of the pages)
Roselli, M. G., "The Photographic Archive"
Chiozzi, P., " Photography and anthropology: the ‘Florentine school’"
Chiozzi, P., " Stephen Sommier’s photographic ethnography"
Galassi, P., " Mantegazza’s Martians"
in: Moggi, J., Stanyon, R. (eds), 2014. "The Museum of Natural History of the University of Florence. Vol. 5, The Anthropological and Ethnological Collections", Firenze University Press (pp. 206-225)


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