Giovanni Pinna (born in Turin, Italy, 1939) is a Professor in Paleontology and a

museologist. For over thirty years (1964-1996) he was a member of the staff of the Natural History Museum in Milan - the largest of its kind in Italy. He started his career there as Curator in Paleontology and in 1981 was appointed Director of the Museum, a post he held until 1996.

His scientific activity has been mainly focused on Ammonites, Triassic reptiles, and fossil Crustacea, subjects to which he has dedicated numerous publications. One of his most important achievements has been the discovery of the Lower Jurassic Fossil-lagerstätte at Osteno on the Lake of Lugano; this is one of the few deposits where the soft parts of fossil organisms are preserved; other successes have been the description of the new class of crustacea, Thylacocephala, and the description of some new genera of reptile fossils.

He is also interested in the problem of mass extinction of various species and in several papers has proposed an alternative to the catastrophic hypotheses; he is, in fact, totally opposed to the theory that the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other taxa could have been caused by the fall of a meteorite towards the end of the Mezoic period.

Under his direction, over a period of fifteen years, the Natural History Museum in Milan was completely restructured. It had been badly damaged in 1943, during the war, and in 1952 had been rebuilt but the exhibition space layout was archaic; he reorganised the scientific sectors, the laboratories and the offices, increased the staff in the scientific departments and laboratories, incerased the collections, re-ordered the historical archives, boosted both scientific research and the didactic activity of the Museum, promoted a series of permanent exhibitions and renovated most of the 5000 sq. metres of exhibition space.

Above all, he succeeded in creating a close relationship, a bond, between the city and its Museum. Thanks to all this renovations, in the early Nineties the Museum in Milan was numbered among the seven great European Natural History Museums, together with those in Madrid, Vienna, Paris, London, Frankfurt and Stockholm.

From 1980 to 1996 he also directed the Planetarium in Milan, renewing the organisation and activity of the same.

In the cultural field, one of his more important achievements was the exhibition Musaeum Septalianum in which material from the 15th century wunderkammer of Manfredo Settala , carefully packed away in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, was shown to the public after many decades. With this exhibition Milan honoured the memory of this 17th century museum and its founder.

Further information on his work as Director of the Natural History Museum in Milan can be found in the following reports and in the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Museum:

Pinna G., 1984 - L'attività del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano negli anni 1980, 1981, 1982. Museo di Storia Naturale Milano.

Pinna G., 1988 - L'attività del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano e del Civico Planetario negli anni 1983, 1984, 1985. Natura,79.

Pinna G., 1988 - Museo Civico di Storia naturale di Milano 1938-1988: 150 years of science. Atti della Società Italiana di scienze Naturali e del Museo di Storia Naturale di Milano, 129.

Pinna G., 1989 - L'attività del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano e del Civico Planetario negli anni 1986, 1987, 1988. Natura, 80,.

Pinna G., 1993 - L'attività del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano e del Civico Planetario negli anni 1989, 1990, 1991. Natura, 84.

Regarding his activity in the field of museology a publication, worthy of note is the volume “Museo. Storia di una macchina culturale dal cinquecento ad oggi” co-authored with Lanfranco Binni and published in 1980. This can be considered the first manual of museology published in Italy during the post-war period. It is now a classic in the field and the basis of the formation of many who are today working in museums in Italy and in governmental organisations concerned with conservation .

Today he has turned his attention to the social aspect of museums, to the intellectual organisation and the mechanisms for the production of culture within these institutions, to the relations existing between museums and society, between museums and power. He is now chiefly engaged as a museological consultant , also within the sphere of international cooperation. His most recent experiences in the field of museum projects have been in connection with the Shaanxi History Museum of Xi'An and the National Museum of Damascus. He is scientific consultant of the Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia of Milan. He edits a series of books on museology, published by RCS as ETAS. He is also editor of a six-monthly magazine dealing with museological studies NUOVA MUSEOLOGIA, which he founded in 1999.

He is at present writing a book on the political control of museums.

Giovanni Pinna is actively concerned in the work of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), a non-governmental organisation in which, over the years, he has held many posts.

Member of the Executive Council of ICOM ITALY from 1976 to 1981

Vice Chairperson of ICOM ITALY from 1981 to 1984 and from 1993 to 1996

Chairperson of ICOM ITALY from 1997 to 2000, re-elected for a second term of office from 2001 to 2004.

In 1999 he created the ICOM International Committee Historic House Museums and was elected Cahirperson of such a Committee, remaining in office until 2002.

In 2001 he was elected member of the ICOM Executive Council for the term 2001 to


As Chairperson of ICOM Italy, he has convinced the Italian government to allow

to ICOM members free entrance to museums, archaelogic sites and state

monuments. By consequence, many Italian municipalities and local governments have given

free entrance to museums to ICOM members.