In the 17th and 18th centuries the representation of the world was still incomplete and the great voyages of discovery never ceased to reveal unknown lands and seas: still persisted large areas of shadow on the knowledge of real shape of the planet. It comes as no surprise, then, that in 1724 a Room of Geography and Nautical Science was created within the Istituto delle Scienze. It was used as an area of study and teaching closely linked to astronomy, natural history and the growing science of navigation. Marsili’s project, whose central theme was in fact the reform of mapping system, borrowed methods and tools from astronomy and mathematics and also required the collaboration of naturalists for the exploration of places and the description of objects and phenomena. Alongside the books, instruments for observation and measurement and globes, the collection boasted a fine series of model ships donated to the Istituto.
Ships and geographical maps, then, assembled together. The ships, a means of discovery and exploration; the geographical maps a support for recording the constant evolution of knowledge and a means of transmitting the new picture of the world deriving from the explorations across the sea.