The Solvay Science Project

The Solvay Science Project is the fruit of the long-term labours of an interdisciplinary team made up of archivists, chemists, historians, physicists, computer scientists, translators and many other specialists. This project began in November 2015 with an inventory of the archives of the Solvay international Institutes of Physics and Chemistry, which were lodged with the Archives of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in 1976, 1989 and 2016.

It was in June 2016 that the idea arose of presenting part of the archives of the Solvay Institutes in a database that was accessible online, thereby creating a virtual exhibition. This exhibition was designed in the form of eight topics, divided into subtopics, covering the key moments in the history of the Solvay Institutes and Conferences.

In May 2018, the trilingual virtual exhibition ‘The Solvay Science Project’ was born. This project is the fruit of the collaboration of the Department of libraries and scientific information of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the International Solvay Institutes for Physics and Chemistry (ISIPC).

Created by UNESCO in 1992, the Memory of the World Program aims to prevent the irrevocable loss of documentary heritage – documents or collections of documents of significant and enduring value, whether on paper, audiovisual, digital, or any other support. Inscriptions on the Memory of the World Register had to be suspended in 2017 due to disagreements between States over the nomination process. An important collective effort has enabled the procedure to be redesigned and nominations were re-launched in 2021. 

On Wednesday, 24 May 2023, they resulted in the unanimous decision of UNESCO's Executive Board to inscribe 64 new documentary collections. The Archives of Solvay Councils in Physics and Chemistry (1910-1962) is one of the new additions, thanks to the efforts of the two universities of Brussels, VUB and ULB, and the team of the Solvay Science Project. Special thanks are due to Prof. em. Franklin Lambert, who conceived the idea, and to Yoanna Alexiou, who prepared the proposal. 

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Start of the exhibition: In the beginning was Solvay …