Galileo’s World visit plan (Fall 2018)

Exhibit Guide

  • Watch the introductory video to gain an overall understanding of the exhibit’s setting and theme:
    • Theme:  “Connections.”  Explanation:  Galileo’s World is not about Galileo per se, it’s about his world (accent on the second word rather than the first).  But more than that, it’s about the juxtaposition of two worlds:  the world of Galileo with the world of OU today.  The aim of the exhibit was to constantly ask how student experience today can recreate that special creativity we find in Tuscany 400 years ago.  The answer is by recreating disciplinary connections.
  • Participatory:  Always emphasize student participation; participation = “co-creation of knowledge and meaning.”  Cf. Exhibit Design.
    Three chief examples, not planned by OU Libraries:  

    • OU Tower of Pisa. More than 20 College of Engineering students created it after first going to Pisa to study the tower in its original setting of Renaissance engineering, art and architecture.
    • Orfeo by Monteverdi:  This early opera, produced by the OU School of Music, was directly influenced by the music theory of Galileo’s father.  20 years from now those students will remember Galileo’s World not for its science but for its music.
    • Galileo’s Torch:  The world premier of this play about Galileo’s trial was performed at OU, produced by the School of Drama.  During the previous semester, the playwright refined the play in dialogue with students in a screenwriters class.
  • Refer inquiries about tours and docent opportunities to Rachael.
    • We welcome class or group visits from third grade on up; any subject area; times limited so arrange well in advance.
    • We offer docent opportunities for students and others to volunteer in all kinds of ways (not merely leading tours).
    • Off-site visits are also possible for area schools and libraries.
  • Lynx Open Ed is our website for exhibit-based educational outreach:

Music of the Spheres

  • Galileo’s Dad — This is the book that led to the OU performance of Orfeo, by Monteverdi
  • Kepler, Harmony of the Universe.  First book to contain all three of what are now known as Kepler’s laws.  All three “laws” were expressed in musical notation.  Kepler was thinking musically.
  • Kepler’s suite (iPad kiosk).  Is this “cosmic dance” the way you think of astrophysics?  The historical relations between music and astronomy reinforce the exhibit’s interdisciplinary theme of “connections.”  

Galileo Engineer

  • Ramelli   
    • Galileo worked for the republic of Venice to refine and improve engineering designs like these.
    • Complex machines exposed the limits of understanding of motion.
    • Used by Schreck in China.
  • Galileo’s Compass.  
    • Ancestor to slide rule.  
    • Galileo’s first and rarest book. Example of OU’s Galileo collection (see Galileo editions handout at Welcome desk).


  • First publication of observations with a microscope.
  • From Galileo and Microscopy gallery at Sam Noble.
  • Rare!
  • Entertaining to read; not a long logical argument.
  • Download English translation from Lynx Open Ed.

Galileo and China

  • Schreck (with Learning Leaflet handout).  
    • A friend of Galileo’s became an engineer in China, and an advisor to the Chinese emperor.
  • In international relations, science isn’t enough; must also endeavor to understand the other culture.

Exploration Room

The Sky at Night (reprise)

  • Galileo, Starry Messenger 
    • First publication of observations with a telescope.  
    • Made Galileo an international celebrity almost overnight.  
    • OU copy only extant copy that is signed.
  • Hevelius star atlas   
    • Second of the four great “golden era” celestial atlases.  All four currently on display; once in a lifetime opportunity to see them all.  Atlas talk available here.
    • Designed to aid instrument-makers crafting celestial globes (like the Coronelli globe represented on walls).  Books = instruments.
    • Published by Elisabeth.  Completed by Elisabeth.  See Learning Leaflet.
  • Art and Astronomy walking tour (handout)
    • Sirigatti:  If you had drawn this before looking at the Moon, would you have understood better the way light and shadow plays on the lunar mountains through the telescope?

The Galileo Affair

  • Bode atlas:  4th of 4 “golden era” celestial atlases (with Learning Leaflet handout)
  • Galileo, Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina:  
    • How to interpret the Bible with respect to science. Consistent with Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.  Had theologians been true to their own principles, there would have been no controversy.  The Galileo Affair mixed politics, patronage and power struggles together in a complex story; not a simple conflict between science and religion.
  • Galileo, Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems.  
    • The book for which Galileo was put on trial.  
    • One of four 1st ed.’s annotated by Galileo.

Many other talking points are possible!  We customize every visit to the interests of the visitors.  These are starting points, an invitation to dive deeper:

  • Complete the scavenger hunt (available from the Welcome desk).  Become familiar with the other handouts at the Welcome desk.
  • Read all the wall graphics in each gallery of the exhibit hall (gallery reflection prompts, section intro’s, graphic panels).
  • Become familiar with the various handouts available throughout the exhibit hall.
  • Use the Exhibit at a Glance pages to dive deeper into any aspect of the exhibit.
  • During down-time at the desk, read a chapter at a time in the iBook Exhibit Guide (or the equivalent sections of the Exhibit at a Glance website).
  • Walk through the exhibit from time to time, and learn one new thing!

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *