Within the building housing Accademia delle Belle Arti, Pinacoteca di Brera, Biblioteca Nazionale, Osservatorio Astronomico, Istituto Lombardo di Scienze e Lettere there’s also the Museo Astronomico-Orto Botanico di Brera. From the rooftop of Palazzo Brera you can accede to a large round room with a domed ceiling that houses the Merz refractor, a big telescope used by astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli between 1875 and 1884 for studies about Mars and other important discoveries, such as the existence of asteroid Hesperia, binary stars and the relationship between shooting stars and comets. In 1920, due to Milan’s light pollution, another seat of the observatory was built in order to better observe the sky.
The Museo Astronomico-Orto Botanico di Brera exhibits scientific instruments such as telescopes, solar watches and pendulums, meteorologic, topographic and physics instruments. Within the building there’s also a botanic garden (Orto Botanico) that was established in 1774 by Maria Theresa of Austria with didactic aims for medicine and pharmacy students. Going for a walk in the garden will allow you to look closely at many species of medicinal plants. Three of the most noteworthy trees are an ancient ginko bilobas, a 40 m high (131 ft) linden and a Caucasic walnut tree.