Museo dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanità

The Museo dell’Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Museum of Italian National Institute of Health) or ISS, located in Rome (Viale Regina Elena 299), is part of the same institute and was inaugurated by the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella on 21 April 2017. The museum originates from the experimental museum of ISS founded in the 1940s in order to collect scientific information useful to doctors and researchers for studying the transmission and effects of serious diseases.


Scale model

The museum is in the great hall of “Giardino di Inverno” (Winter Garden) on the fifth floor of the Institute’s central building.


Entrance to the Musem

The museum allows visitors to follow an interesting path in four stages with numerous sectors.


The visitors can admire the stupendous floor made with Vietri ceramics in 1959.


Series of scientific instruments

The upper part of the two sides of the museum is characterized by illuminated shelves full of historical scientific instruments.


Virtual interactive doors

In the museum there are two doors and two doorbells; by ringing them visitors are welcomed by Rita Levi Montalcini’s and Enrico Fermi’s virtual voices at the first door and by Daniel Bovet’s and Ernst Boris Chain’s ones at the second door.


First sector

The first sector is dedicated to malaria.


In the following photo there are some instruments - such as cameras used in various studies - and Atabrine, an antimalarial drug.


Second sector

In the second sector there is a panel with six masks which show the effects of some diseases.


There is also an other panel showing the most important events or elements of the penicillin factory of the ISS throughout its history.


One of these photos portrays Ernst Boris Chain who, together with Walter Florey and Alexander Fleming, won the Noble Prize for Medicine and Physiology in 1945. He discovered how to stabilize penicillin as an antibiotic to cure infectious diseases.


Third sector

The third sector is dedicated to microscopy.


Last sector

In the last sector visitors can observe the famous electronic microscope rebuilt by the researchers of ISS and one of Canova’s panels, that is part of a collection of 17 panels. These represent, on paper, the anatomic knowledge of the Eighteenth century.


The artist used black graphite to outline the tendons and the ancillary anatomical parts while the muscles are underlined by a red ocher pencil. The panels were bought by ISS from the Olschki library of Rome in 1943.


  • Photos and main text by Cristian Nicolae Gilca moc.liamg|3naitsircaclig#| and Mattia Della Rocca moc.liamg|9accoralled.aittam#| (December 2017), courtesy of Istituto Superiore di Sanità and of Paola De Castro (Director of the Publishing Unit)

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