I love this kind of museum, where you can spontaneously come in without standing in a 30 minute ticket line, see something interesting, learn something new and continue your way wherever you were going to. That perfectly describes our museum of the day – Musée Curie, founded in 1935 on the ground floor of the Curie Pavilion of the Institut du Radium. The museum is rather small but full of intriguing objects and documents connected with radioactivity and its uses, and of course the famous Curie family as well.
One of the most memorizing parts of the exhibition is connected with the « Radium obsession » which happened right after its discovery in the beginning of the XX century. Radium was taken as a miraculous element, and radium-containing foods (bread, chocolate, drinking water), cosmetics (face creams, toothpaste, powder), vitamins and supplements appeared on the market. For example, the famous cosmetic brand Tho-Radia said its cream « made on the base of thorium and radium » is prepared « by the formula of Dr Alfred Curie », which, by the way, had no family relationship with Marie and Pierre Curie. Merciless marketing. But don’t you worry, as Radium is rare and expensive (Marie Curie was working for 12 years to get a tiny grain), the amount of it in all those « miracle-working » products was so microscopic, that it made no harm. However, this chemical element was classified as poison in 1937. The obsession was gone.
Another place of interest is the laboratory of Marie Curie where she was making research from 1914 to 1934. Later in this laboratory her daughter and son-in-law Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie discovered artificial radioactivity, for which they received the 1935 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. I always find it beyond exciting to visit places where the extraordinary people were working or living!
Musée Curie is a fine mix of interactive and vintage exhibits, that would interest not only those who are fond of chemistry or work in this field. I always sucked at chemistry in school, but at this museum I felt closer to solving the mystery of it.
Official website: musee.curie.fr
Address: 1 Rue Pierre et Marie Curie, 75005 Paris.
Opening hours: Wed-Sat: 1 pm-5 pm. Closed in August and public holidays.