Scientific and cultural heritage of the University of Strasbourg
The universities of Strasbourg have several significant collections that range over many fields, such as Mineralogy, Zoology, Botanic, Palaeontology, Egyptology, Ethnology, plaster casts, Normal and Pathologic Anatomy as well as Astronomy appliances, Physics instruments, Seismology and Geomagnetism devices and Medical instruments. The collections are strongly connected to the history of the universities. The Zoology and Mineralogy collections were started in Jean Hermann’s Natural History Study, which was built between 1762 and the year he died, in 1800. Hermann also contributed to the Botanical garden, created in 1619. Collections and places that host them were later owned by the Kaiser Wilhelm Universität between 1873 and 1919, when the Alsace-Moselle region was annexed to Germany after France was defeated in 1871. Emperor William I of Germany made Strasbourg the showcase of the power and modernism of the newly unified Prussia. The monumental aspect of university buildings, the equipments, the research and educational collections and the high-stake lecturers that taught there, all attest the huge investment the German Empire made to build this true city inside the city. The Kaiser Wilhelm Universität strengthened the German university model created by Humbolt, which associated research with learning. Modern university is still based on this method, in which museum collections play a very important role. When Alsace and Moselle regions were re-annexed to France in 1919, the French State helped the university of Strasbourg to stay among the most important universities of Europe by giving more funds to it than to the other universities. The material heritage is the expression of the rich non-material heritage of knowledge developed in the University of Strasbourg.
Despite two World Wars and further changes of nationality, the educational, research and museum collections have survived until today. Some of these collections are still used as teaching support material. The Zoology Museum showcases millions of specimens and it is still open to visitors. It is under the city and Louis Pasteur University guardianships and disposes of supervisory and activity staff. The mineralogy museum hosts about 30,000 specimens of minerals that were mainly found in the 19th century in every part of the world. This collection is considered as a historical scientific reference collection given its origins, quality and crystal-chemical diversity of the specimens. In its 3,5 hectares, the botanical garden hosts nearly 6,000 different species of plants, coming from all continents. It is one of the three gardens in France that have pure university status. It is linked with the Botanic Institute that hosts a herbarium whose collection gathers about 430,000 plants. There are also two other museums hosting scientific instrument collections. The planetarium celebrated its 25th anniversary 2007; it was built in one of the buildings of the astronomical observatory. Aside from the projection room, the facility has a museum in which part of the astronomical instrument collection is showcased. Finally, the Seismology and Geomagnetism museum was built in 1996 in the former seismology station and hosts a remarkable collection of seismometers and magnetometers.
These structures and their staffs keep the collections well preserved and allow people to visit them. Temporary exhibitions, workshops for children and thematic visits for schools are organised in the museums. For further information about Louis Pasteur and Marc Block Universities’ museums and collections, please visit: http://collections.u-strasbg.fr/.