Many other universities have Physics Museums and it is always interesting to visit them.

Recently I had a chance to visit the Museo di Fisica at La Sapienza university in Rome. The university goes back to medieval times and much of this collection to the 1850s, but the present manifestation dates from 1978 when the New Fermi Building was completed. Although there are some instruments on display in the foyers, most of the collection is securely locked away upstairs. Students are paid to act as attendants and guides for a total of six hours per week, but the hours change each semester, and I made the mistake of not checking close to my visit, so it was closed when I arrived. The Director, Prof Battimelli, very kindly interrupted his work to give me a quick tour.

Not only is there a very nice collection of late nineteenth century teaching and research instruments but also early twentieth ones too. My favourite was a constant deviation spectroscope and camera very similar to ones we have, but this one had a beautiful kidney shaped wooden table especially made for it.

And there are many relics of local hero, Enrico Fermi. In 2003 a beautiful illustrated catalogue was produced and I now have a copy on which to practise my limited Italian. There is now a very extensive website catalogue too.

Prof Battimelli explained that he also conducts courses in the history of physics for advanced level students.

On my way out of the campus I looked in to the nearby Marconi building, and found another display of Fermi apparatus along with a marble statue of Milton visiting the housebound Galileo with news of developments in the outside world.