The Botanic Garden was founded in 1543 by naturalist, doctor and botanist Luca Ghini (1490-1556). It is the first university botanic garden in the world.
Originally built on the banks of the river Arno, the Botanic Garden was moved to its actual site in 1591 and then progressively expanded to its current size of about two hectares. It houses plants from the five continents: succulents of the African and American deserts; aromatic plants of the Mediterranean maquis; species of the Tuscan marshes; numerous centuries-old trees and many others..
Heir to the ancient Gallery, established in 1591 by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando I de’ Medici, it still preserves the Quadreria, composed of seventeenth-century portraits of illustrious botanists, the monumental entrance door to the Gallery, and the “Studiolo” used to study and preserve the seeds of the Botanic Garden. The Museum also houses objects related to the teaching of botany since the end of the eighteenth century. Some are true works of art, such as the botanical models in wax and plaster and the water-coloured teaching tables (19th century). Among the collections, there are samples of in vitro plants, the xylotheque, teaching models, botanical instruments and paleobotany collections. Finally, thanks to a multimedia station, it is possible to make a virtual visit among the historical collections of plants of the Herbarium (Herbarium Horti Botanici Pisani), preserved in the Palace at the Centre of the Botanic Garden and otherwise accessible only to scholars, upon reservation.
The Museums of the University of Pisa is a network of nine structures in addition to the Natural History Museum which is located in Calci, a few kilometers from Pisa.