The Constitutions approved on 12 December 1711 marked the establishment of the institute of science in Bologna. This ambitious and original project conceived by General Luigi Ferdinando Marsili (1658-1730) aimed to gather the whole encyclopaedia of modern scientific knowledge inside the rooms of an old senatorial residence.
A series of architectural changes were required in order to make Palazzo Poggi suitable to its new use, including adding the "La Specola" observatory tower and a whole new building to house the library. With laboratories, galleries and workshops set up next to each other on the two floors of the palazzo, the Istituto became not only a venue for scientific discussions, as was the case for numerous other scientific academies, but also a place for scientific experimentation. Marsili, was faithful to this idea of the Institute when he set to work on his project.
It was Prospero Lambertini, first as archbishop of Bologna and then as Pope Benedict XIV who supported and relaunched Marsili’s undertaking set against the backdrop of Europe’s Age of Enlightenment.
What had once been the “erudite and hospitable table” of Cardinal Poggi, Marsili’s “casa di Salomone” and the ark of the New Covemant between religion and science under the auspices of Pope Lambertini, was about to become , in the next phase launched by Napoleon’s reforms, the place of choice to map out knowledge in novel ways.