top of page

'WOMEN OF THE SKY. From Muses to Scientists': Exhibition in the spotlight

National Central Library of Florence, Dante Hall

Via Magliabechi 2, Florence


8 March – 8 June 2024

Curators: Natacha Fabbri, Caterina Guiducci and Simona Mammana


This exhibition, the first of its kind in Italy, focuses on the role of women in astronomical research and on exploring the female images that most frequently feature in representations of the cosmos from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century.

Installation shot of 'Women of the Sky' at Florence's National Central Library

Drawing on the rich holdings of the Central National Library of Florence, this exhibition presents scientific, literary and cartographic works that reveal the presence of female protagonists and/or authors, in texts and manuscripts characterised by the association between women and the celestial spheres.

Artist Ilaria Margutti at the 'Women of the Sky' exhibition with her works on show

Part of the exhibition is devoted to astronomical themes presented in ‘querelle des femmes’, i.e. in works arguing for intellectual and social equality between men and women. The National Library's manuscripts and texts are presented in dialogue with scientific instruments from the Galileo Museum and several private collections, and in conversation with astronomy-inspired artwork. In fact, The Variables of the Swan are an integral part of the exhibition. This series of seven monumental canvases by artist Ilaria Margutti are a nod to studies conducted by Henrietta Swan Leavitt. Margutti has interpreted Leavitt’s complex mathematical calculations on canvas, using the ancient technique of embroidery, to reproduce the Magellanic Clouds’ coordinates, comprised of 1,777 variables recorded by Henrietta Leavitt between 1904 and 1908.

A detail from Ilaria Margutti's Variable of the Swan on show at 'Women of the Sky', 2024


The exhibition is divided into seven sections:

1. Women of Stars. Constellations and planetary divinities

2. Recondite harmonies. Muses, sirens and machines of the world

3. Dignity and prejudice. Astronomy for everyone

4. New views onto new worlds. Telescopes, satellites and Galilean echoes

5. Travellers of the cosmos. In between dreams and science

6. Women of science. From ‘Astronomy for ladies’ to Women of Astronomy

7. When the body becomes celestial. Astral images of the feminine identity

Organised by the Galileo Museum and the Central National Library of Florence, under the patronage of the Municipality of Florence, with the support of Regione Toscana, GiovaniSì, InContemporanea, Caserma Archeologica. The Galileo Museum extends its thanks to donors Calliope Arts.

Text from Museo Galileo's website: Women of the Sky: From Muses to Scientists


bottom of page