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The legacy of Enrico Fermi. The challenges of the future

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CREF promotes original and high-impact lines of research, based on physical methods, but with a strong interdisciplinary character and in relation to the main problems of the modern knowledge society.

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History of Physics
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third mission

The CREF was born with a dual soul: a research centre and a historical museum. Its aim is to preserve and disseminate the memory of Enrico Fermi and to promote the dissemination and communication of scientific culture.

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third mission

the museum

After a careful and thorough philological restoration, from 2019 the Fermi Museum is located on the ground floor of the monumental complex in Panisperna street.

The building itself is part of the museum’s itinerary. The courtyard with the famous “goldfish” fountain (the first Italian historical site of the European Physical Society since 2012); the entrance staircase, immortalised in 1931 on the occasion of the First International Congress of Nuclear Physics, attended by the most famous theoretical physicists of the time; up to the large vaulted corridors on the first floor, where Fermi and his collaborators walked in 1934 during experiments on radioactivity induced by neutrons. These were experiments which, as we all know, led to Fermi being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1938.

The History

The Fermi Museum was created to preserve and disseminate the historical memory linked to the figure of Enrico Fermi and his collaborators, as well as the history of the Royal Institute of Physics, from its foundation at the end of the 19th century until 1936, when the Institute moved to its new headquarters in the Sapienza.

In 2013, a working group of physicists and historians of physics was set up to define the scientific content of the future museum, which will be housed in the monumental complex in via Panisperna. The result is a historical-scientific journey that retraces Fermi’s life and discoveries, from Rome to America, through about ten significant “stages”. Visitors can immerse themselves in this fascinating and exciting “adventure”, which innovatively combines traditional objects and panels with modern multimedia technologies: graphic visualisations, interactive panels, tactile and holographic screens.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the solutions chosen, a temporary exhibition entitled “Enrico Fermi – A creative balance between theories and experiments” was inaugurated in 2015 as part of the Genoa Science Festival; with minor changes and entitled “Enrico Fermi – A double genius between theories and experiments”, the exhibition will then be open from 10 February to 22 May 2016 in Bologna, in the former church of San Mattia, with the support of the Polo Museale della Emilia. Both exhibitions have been a great public success, with around 15,000 visitors each, including children from many schools, from primary to high school.

The Museum today

Today, in its definitive location, the exhibition has become a permanent historical museum of physics, where the figure of Enrico Fermi as a master of 20th century physics, is illustrated along the path entitled: The Scientific Legacy of Enrico Fermi.

Inaugurated in October 2019, the Fermi Museum will effectively resume its activities starting in March 2022, following the Covid 19 Pandemic.

The organisation, implementation and management of the Museum will be carried out by a Technical Committee composed of researchers from the Institution. It will be coordinated by Dr. Miriam Focaccia and supervised by the Scientific Director.

The Fermi Museum is now regularly open to schools, associations and scientific organisations. Regular open days are organised for the public, as well as scientific dissemination and communication events. These are all announced on the Museum’s website (link), in a newsletter and on the Institution’s social media.

National and International Collaborations

Sapienza, Università di Roma
Università Tor Vergata, Roma
Università Roma3, Roma
Alma Mater Studiorum, Bologna
Archivio Amaldi, Dipartimento di Fisica, Sapienza
Festival della Scienza di Genova
Rai Storia
Rai Educational

MakerFaire, Roma
Dmo ES.CO. Esquilino Comunità, Porta di Roma

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