Giuseppe Veronese to the Minister of Public Education Guido Baccelli

Your Excellency

During the last days of the past June, I had the honor to talk with your Excellency and with the Head of the Department of Higher Education about the project to build a workshop at the University of Padua.

The workshop would prepare model forms of descriptive geometry (including perspective and bas-relief theory), higher geometry, mathematical physics, and rational mechanics.

At that time, Your Excellence encouraged me to present a little project to the Minister, while promising your endorsement to me.

Therefore, now I submit my request for your examination.

The teaching of sciences must be reinforced according to the new principles and the new truths, that step after step, are enriching the treasure of human knowledge.

For this reason, the new ideas that have upgraded the exact Sciences continuously, cause the necessity to update our way of teaching. We must fulfill that necessity if we want the teaching of scientific sciences to be effective.

Among the new needs for a new way of teaching, there is also the increase of scientific materials.

Actually, a professor instruction should always be supported

by practical affirmations, which can give his teachings a greater clarity and authority, so that the truths of science are more firmly impressed in the youths’ minds.

Insight in Geometry consists of the ability to represent in our minds the forms of the space, in a way that our thought can penetrate them, put them together, separate them, and so discover the intimate link that connect and permeate all of them.

Actually, we must build in the minds of young people, from their early age, an insight of the geometrical space. To that end, it would be very useful to assist the geometrical demonstration, as far as possible, with designs and models through which a young person can better understand and perceive the geometric properties of the bodies, without too much effort.

In our schools, there are already collections of models of geometric bodies – more or less complete – that are used for the purposes I explained above, to teach elementary geometry and elements of descriptive geometry.

Unfortunately, until recently those types of collections are missing completely for descriptive geometry and higher geometry. Those sciences deal with complex and difficult subjects and need even more the support of good models of geometric bodies.

Actually, a few workshops to prepare those models have been built abroad. Among them, the best is without any doubt the one connected with the Polytechnical Institute in Munich. Our University and out Institutes are obliged to purchase the models from them.

I believe that a workshop like the one in Munich would be very helpful for us because mathematical studies are becoming more and more important in Italy. We would be able to buy the collections we want cheaper, and we will not be dependent on foreign firms.

A workshop would be useful not only to make the geometric body models that we need, but it would be a practical laboratory where the young students of the Faculty of Mathematics and the Application School for engineers could learn how to elaborate them and at the same time to understand better some complex theories developed in the School.

My request is supported by the letters of some of my colleagues, Professors Brioschi, d’Ovidio, Dini, Bertini. From their letters, the Minister will understand the importance of a workshop and usefulness of such a workshop, that could not be built and function without special encouragement.

Those letters will let you know that the Universities of Rome, Torino, Pavia and Pisa spent 8000 lire in total for models of geometric bodies , nevertheless, none of those Institutions possess a complete collection, and other Universities and superior Institutes do not have any at all.

I think it would be useful to give your Excellence some information about the workshop in Munich, to have a more exact and clearer understanding on how this type of workshop looks and operates.

The Mathematical Institute is connected to the Polytechnic School of that town. Since 1875, the Mathematical Institute includes a Collection, a library for members (teachers and students) the Mathematical Seminar, and the workshop.

The collection includes more than five hundred body models of Higher Geometry, Mathematical Physics, and Mechanics.

The workshop owns several tools to build the geometrical models, lathes and other tools to build them with wood and chalk. The geometrical models are the result of special research made by the professors of the higher courses of the Faculty of Mathematics and of the Polytechnic Institute.

When they have made a good number of models, the best ones are delivered to a library (perhaps the Library of the publisher Ludwig Brill) that has the task of painting and selling them.

The expense of the installation of the workshop is about one thousand five hundred lire. None of the workers of the workshop is paid by the government, except one who is in charge of painting the models, and is paid by library. The same worker has the task to repair the faults that may happen to the models of the collection and in the other tools and materials of the workshop; he is also in charge to give the students those practical hints that they may need; for that purpose, a small sum is set aside every year.

That sum and the expenses for the library, for the collection and for the materials, are covered with a sum of about one thousand lire, which are paid by the government.

The Director of both the Mathematical Institute and the workshop gets one thousand lire every year for his work.

The library sells the models to Bavarian Schools at a favorable price.

That is the organization of the workshop in Munich, which is connected to the Mathematical Library and to the Collection of models, as I wrote above. There are though other workshops, in Gottingen, Karlsruhe, Paris etc., that perhaps have different arrangements.

At present I am asking Your Excellence a grant of two thousand lire to go to examine and study those workshops, the way they are built, and the way they operate, so that the workshop that will be built here will not be inferior to the ones that you can see abroad, and will withstand honorably the competition with them.

Immediately after my travel, I will present to Your Excellence a report about what I saw and a consequent proposal. Whatever that proposal will be, Your Excellence would be able to see that the Government should afford an expenditure of two thousand lire each year, to obtain something that will be very useful for the teaching of the exact sciences.

Having had already a proof of your interest in the progress of scientific studies in Italy, I hope you want to receive my request with benevolence.

To avoid misunderstandings, I declare that I shall go to visit the workshop abroad during Easter and autumn holidays of 1884, to avoid any prejudice to the regular completion of my classes.

With profound respect

Your devoted

Prof. Giuseppe Veronese