Antonio Allegri wrote:
Geology, like all sciences in the second half of the 19th century, found new life in evolutionist studies and in paleontology, which surprised the theories of Neptunism and Plutonism and tried to recover the natural history of the world. Paolo Gorini, at times eclectically brilliant despite his wrong geological beliefs, appeared as technically severe but also evidently romantic. He showed his nature in his papers, which were influenced by the recently passed Illuminism, and in his experiments, at times obsolete and useless for scientific advancement. In fact, Gorini's efforts in geology and in anatomy, although carried out with extraordinary passion, were notably outdated and oblivious of the rich and updated scientific bibliography. Paolo Gorini based his work on antiquated bibliography and so it's clear that his theory on plutons belonged to an outdated scientific discussion.
However, even in this field, Paolo Gorini's name was not unrecognized. His papers and especially his spectacular experimental exhibitions on the origins of mountains and volcanoes drew the attention of many.
The scientist Giulio Curioni wrote:
Curioni himself, in 1852, was asked by the Istituto Lombardo di Scienze e Lettere of Milan to write a Report on the experiments done by Paolo Gorini to illustrate the formation of mountains.
Gorini himself reminded:
The rest of the tale is here told by Curioni:
On May 11th 1872, after the discussion of the bill for the postponement of the payment of taxes for the people damaged by the eruption of the Vesuvius, the member of parliament Antonio Billia invited the government to encourage Italian scientists to study volcanoes. With the objective of preventing the fury of the lava, he invoked for an "alliance of science", reminding his colleagues about a famous and controversial name:
in a small town in Lombardy an illustrious scientist lives[…] without protection, without the means, rather in conflict with official science […] I'm speaking of professor Paolo Gorini […] not unknown to […] our minister of finance […]. With only his brilliance […] he has guessed the secret of volcanoes and has managed to find the reason of their formation […]. From his findings we may be able to prevent some grave harm […]. Few thousand liras used to prevent are much better spent than many thousand used to repair.
By saying that Gorini was "not unknown to […] our minister of finance", Billia was reminding him that already in 1865 the same Quintino Sella had implored Natoli, minister of education, to send the scientist on the site "in order to allow him to continue his interesting experiments". During that period, Gorini had already been invited by the Società dell'Incoraggiamento of Palazzo Durini in Milan, by the Istituto Lombardo and by the University of Brescia (where some obstacles though eventually impeded the exhibitions), to publicly show his experiments on the formation of mountains. And Gorini didn't only work in Italy: in London, on the occasion of the first great exposition, he reproduced his miniature mountains. Actually, the Società dell'Incoraggiamento, did some models of Gorini's geological reproductions and sent them as a gift to the main Academies in Europe, along with detailed reports.
However, as Gorini wrote:
Many exponents of official science were skeptical about Gorini's public experiments and the illustrious geologist Antonio Stoppani was one of his most resolute detractors. At any rate it's clear that Gorini's studies, while spectacular and significant, were anachronistic since the debate between Neptunism and Plutonism had already been surpassed at the beginning of the 1800s by more modern theories dictated by paleontology. Despite the justified aversion of naturalists to the eclectic scholar, instead the newspapers were punctually referring to Gorini's public experiments, cleverly raising the stupor of the Italians:
those who yesterday at two were at our Politeama to witness the second experiment […] can easily believe to have seen the kind of magic and wizardry that amazed Nostradamus' contemporaries. Imagine a circus in complete darkness: in the middle a vast cauldron with 400 kilograms of red boiling liquid lava at more than 1000° Celsius; and around it in the audience and in the dais, three-hundred human figures, similar to a lot of ghosts, immobilized by the most intense wonder […] Next to the cauldron, agitated and gesticulating like an enthusiast among the sparks and the flaming smoke, a real salamander of science, the tall and skinny Gorini, with predatory eyes, crying the explanations of the phenomena with his hoarse voice.
The Collezione Paolo Gorini is located inside the Ospedale Vecchio of Lodi, situated in the wonderful 15th century Chiostro della Farmacia.
Wednesday from 10.00 to 12.00,
Saturday from 9.30 to 12.30,
Sunday from 14.30 to 16.30.
The Collezione Paolo Gorini, born in 1981 in the former chapter house of the Ospedale Vecchio, currently presents a new arrangement, thanks also to the works done to expand rooms, create a reception and conference room.