Demolition work was due to start in a few days. After the issue was publicised by the media and local architecture enthusiasts, the situation has changed. There are many indications that the Marie Skłodowska-Curie workshop in Paris will nevertheless be saved. The decision was announced by the French Ministry of Culture, which ordered a halt to the demolition work.
It is an inconspicuous building, but one with a rich history. Marie Skłodowska-Curie’s laboratory, called the Pavillon des Sources (Pavilion of the Sources), is located on the Sainte-Genevieve mountain in Paris’s Latin Quarter. The pavilion was built in the early 20th century. It is located next to a scientific institute and museum dedicated to the Polish Nobel laureate. Today, the site is managed by the Institut Curie, which plans to build a new, state-of-the-art laboratory. The institute is a foundation dedicated to the study and treatment of oncological diseases.
The Polish Nobel laureate stored radioactive materials in the pavilion, which she prepared for research. Today, the Institute’s representatives believe that the building has no historical value, so it can be replaced with a new one. The demolition permit was issued on 24 March 2023, with work due to start on 8 January 2024.
The plans were opposed by associations dedicated to preserving France’s cultural heritage. The Polish embassy was also expected to intervene in the case, according to Polskie Radio.
Le Figaro published a statement by historian Stephane Berne, who pointed to the building’s “valuable, commemorative and symbolic” dimension.
The breakthrough came on Friday 5 January. French Minister of Culture Rima Abdul Malak decided to halt the demolition. In a post on his X profile, he announced that he had spoken to Thierry Philip, president of the Curie Institute, to halt the demolition and consider whether there was an alternative to demolishing the pavilion.
If an alternative solution emerges at Mount Sainte-Genevieve then the Curie Institute will accept it. If not, the conflict between historical memory and science will have to be resolved in a calm debate, says Thierry Philip. The President points out that the Marie Skłodowska-Curie laboratory building has not been used for years. Today only radioactive waste is stored there and access to the interior is blocked.
The AFP agency reported that Rachida Dati, an opposition councillor on the Paris Council, has sent a letter to the Minister of Culture to give the former laboratory building the title of historical monument. Such a title would most effectively save the building from demolition.
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