The current structure of Palazzo Poggi building dates back to remodeling and expansion work done in the 16th century on a home purchased by the Poggi family at the end of the 15th century.
Around mid 16th century, Giovanni Poggi, a powerful clergyman in the Pope’s court, had the idea of expanding and improving the palace.
Some scholars attribute the design of the remodeling to Pellegrino Tibaldi, others to Bartolomeo Triachini and others yet to Gaetano Alessi. The plans called for a two storey building, with an imposing façade on via San Donato (today via Zamboni), an atrium and a lodge with a portico, and a staircase leading to the “piano nobile”.
Most of the laboratories of the Istituto delle Scienze were housed right there on the first floor, where the museum is located today, starting from 1711.
The tower of the La Specola astronomical observatory was completed in 1726, on a design by G.A. Torri and C.F. Dotti, while the Aula Magna of the Institute’s Library (today the University Library) was completed in 1744 from blueprints by C.F. Dotti.
During the Napoleonic era, from 1803 to 1805 the headquarters of the University was transferred from the Archiginnasio to Palazzo Poggi.