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Virtual exhibitions


In this section we present some virtual exhibitions and on-line thematic routes based on Phaidra digital collections. The exhibitions are realised with MOVIO, an open source kit for staging virtual online exhibitions developed by the Istituto centrale per il catalogo unico delle biblioteche italiane (ICCU).

Geologist and Soldier of the Great War

On the occasion of the anniversary of the First World War, the Library of Geosciences recalls Antonio De Toni, first student and then professor of geology at the University of Padua, who fell a few days after the beginning of the conflict. The library holds his publications, his geological maps, some commemorative writings and an archive box with field notebooks, photos, notes and fossil sketches. The Museum of Geology and Paleontology holds the paleontological samples he had collected and studied.


Changes at the Palazzo Liviano Libraries.

The main idea behind this exhibition is to show the changes over the years between the University’s first public library and the new Liviano Library of Classical Studies, Arts and Music.
The exhibition also highlights how the future is constructed by the past through re-using ancient spaces and finding a balance between innovation and tradition.
An impressive library with a significant collection of bibliographic works resulting from the unification of the libraries in Palazzo Liviano has opened its doors in the spaces below the Hall of the Giants to new generations of students.
Rather than closing Palazzo Liviano to the public due to safety concerns following the 2012 earthquake, a new space was created, the Liviano Library of Classical Studies, Arts and Music, to begin a new chapter in the centuries-old history of the University of Padova.


  • Medicamenta
    Histories of diseases and remedies from the ancient books of the Library of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences of the University of Padova.
  • In the 1920s, the Library of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences received a valuable collection of ancient books about medicine and pharmacology from the Botanical Garden of Padova. The virtual exhibition presents several storylines accompanied by over 350 images. Some of these have been included in an online colouring book.
    The first part, devoted to medicine, includes a timeline highlighting important milestones. From there, there is a look at the evolution of unofficial medicine, told through “books of secrets”. One chapter explores traditional approaches and remedies during the great plagues. There are various ancient texts about thermalism. Lastly, there are anatomical illustrations representing the human body as a show.
    Pharmacy prepares medications for illnesses and the second part of the exhibition looks at the history, the ingredients, the techniques, the recipes and the profession. Of all the medications, the queen of cures for centuries was theriac and the exhibition explores its preparation which was so complex that it became a public show.


    The aim of the exhibition is to give an overview of the various aspects of botanical illustration (history, evolution, techniques...) through the presentation of some of the most beautiful illustrated books kept at the Library of the Botanical Garden of the University of Padova. The library has a collection holding thousands of ancient and modern volumes, mostly dedicated to botany, plants and gardens, which is obviously not feasible to present in its entirety in this exhibition. The choice was made, therefore, to select the illustrated books that seem the most significant in view of the exhibition’s purpose: books made in different centuries (fifteenth to nineteenth centuries), using various printing techniques and created for different purposes.


    The people and technology belonging to the history of photography in the digital collections of Phaidra. The aim of the exhibition is to pass on and promote the visual memories represented in the photography collections of Phaidra, by presenting these collections, carrying out research on the technical, physical, and chemical aspects that contribute to the creation of photographic images, and describing the digitalisation process that allows us to make photographs available to a large audience. The photography collections come from the University of Padova, the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and the IUAV University of Venice.


    • Images and prehistory
      Prehistoric animals and landscapes seen through the eyes of the 19th and 20th century scholars.

    Prehistoric animals and landscapes seen through the eyes of 19th and 20th century scholars. Between 1800 and 1900, illustrations became an extremely popular tool in teaching. This universal means of communication, used in various fields of study and for different proficiency levels, quickly established itself as a teaching method for the masses. The University of Padova holds a few collections of wall charts, photographs, and illustrated books that are evidence of the importance that scholars at the time attributed to using images to communicate science to their colleagues and students.


    The zoological wall charts belong to the remarkable collection of the University of Padova’s Biology Department and are kept in the “Complesso Vallisneri” Library. These illustrations are also used as mural boards, illustrated charts, educational posters or, quite simply, as decorative posters. This type of representation, strictly scientific and embellished with relevant artistic features, was used as far back as the 16th century until around the end of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s.

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