Museo dell’Accademia degli Euteleti (22)
The Academy of the Euteleti is the oldest scientific and cultural institution in San Miniato, having been founded in the mid-seventeenth century with the name of Accademia degli affidati on the initiative of the bishop Alessandro Strozzi. The institution, which brought together the intellectuals of the city, probably already existed before this date; effectively it seems plausible that a cultural society, the name of which we do not know, was already active at the time of the papal archiator, or physician, Michele Mercati. This theory appears to be confirmed by the academic coat of arms conserved in the Diocesan Museum, datable in the sixteenth century. The Academy, set up anew in 1748 by several members of Buonaparte family with the name of Academia dei Rinati, adopted its present name of Euteleti (that is, men of good will who persue good ends), with a coat of arms showing a horse galloping victoriously towards its goal, in 1822 through the initiative of two illustrious local notables: Torello Pierazzi, future bishop of the Diocese of San Miniato and the poet Pietro Bagnoli.
Its members met periodically to address issues related to the history of the town, its monuments and the noble families of the area. Its principal purpose from the very start was the dissemination and enhancement of not only the literary heritage, but above all scientific knowledge and studies connected with the development of agriculture. In the early years of its life, it contributed to the diffusion of Tuscan culture beyond national boundaries. From the documents conserved in the archives and the society's well-furnished library, we know that in 1834 it promoted a "Printing Society" and the setting up of an infant school. The activity of the Academy was interrupted for a time with the start of the Wars of Independence, while in the Fascist period it was declared a charitable organization. Today the Academy is still a benchmark in the cultural life of the town, devoting part of its resources to the organisation of exhibitions and conferences of a scientific nature. It also publishes annually a "Bulletin" on history, literature, science and the arts. From 1984 it has its premises in the historic Migliorati Palace in Piazza XX Settembre, formerly the residence of the Migliorati Marquises. The construction of the palazzo dates to the fourteenth century, although the present façade is the result of renovation carried out in the early seventeenth century. The collection set up in the three rooms of the museum documents the history of the prestigious institution, displaying archive documents, precious antique prints and fine works of contemporary graphics by Pietro Parigi (1892-1985) and Dilvo Lotti. Another article of exceptional historic and documentary value is the Funeral Mask of Napoleon Bonaparte, whose family boasted San Miniato origins: this work reveals a precision of physical feature that is absent in other existing replicas, to an extent that suggests that it was an authentic plaster cast of the original executed by the Corsican physician Antommarchi and the English physician Francis Burton. The mask arrived in the collection of the academy in 1951 via the architect-sculptor Flaminio Bretoni, who came to know San Miniato thorugh the artist Antonio Luigi Gajoni.