The Maria Sklodowska-Curie Museum, located in Warsaw, is dedicated to the life and work of the Polish-French scientist, discoverer of polonium and radium, and the only woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize twice, once in physics and once in chemistry.

 

Plans to build a biographical museum to chronicle Madame Curie’s achievements originated prior to the Second World War. In the 1930s, Curie’s sisters -- Helen Szalay and Bronisława Dłuska -- collected family souvenirs associated with Maria, in the form of letters, research documents and tools, personal items, furniture, newspaper articles and photos. These donated artifacts were used to open a museum honoring the scientist, located at 15 Wawelska Street, in Warsaw. This was in keeping with Curie’s expressed desire to open such a facility, which Marie called the Radium Institute, in her hometown. The museum had the open support of Professor Stanislaw Lorentz, then director of the National Museum.

 

Tragically, all exhibits were destroyed during the Warsaw Uprising.

 

The first Polish edition of Curie's biography, “Marie Curie” appeared in 1938, and consisted of Curie’s mother’s priceless letters, poetry and accumulated information about her daughter. The collection was especially treasured in light of the fiery loss of Curie’s original letters during the Uprising.

 

The museum is now housed in an 18th century tenement at 16 Freta Street. The Curie family’s ties to the location go back to 1860, when the building housed a girls's boarding school, owned by Eleonore Kurhanowicz.

 

 

The structure, designed by architect Szymon Bogumił Zug, was built during 1782-1787 at the behest of a well-known Warsaw banker – Maciej Łyszkiewicz. Reconstructed several times, the current structure is very much like the original. An additional story was built in the 1930s, and subsequently rebuilt following its collapse later in the decade. Photographs from the end of the 19th century, the 1930s, and from the period after the Warsaw Uprising show a gate leading into the building, an upper story that housed the boarding school, and an annex where the Skłodowski family lived and where Maria was born.

 

 

A year later found the family relocated to Nowolipki Street, when Bronisława resigned as head of the boarding school and became sub-inspector at the Government Junior High School for boys. Although Maria lived on Freta Street for just one year, a commemorative plaque was placed on the building to note her birthplace and achievements. The structure, again rebuilt in the 1950s, was then occupied by the Polish Teachers Union, where the Institute of Marxism and Leninism was situated.

 

In 1954, the building was taken over by the House of Scientist Workers and housed an exhibit established to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Madam Curie's death. Present at the opening ceremony was Curie’s daughter, Irene Joliot-Curie, and Irene’s husband, Frideric. After this exhibition, souvenirs and exhibits were moved to the Technical Museum.

 

Although not officially confirmed as a museum, articles from 1954 in “Polish Science” support the belief that the Curie Museum existed at that time, and include a photograph of the building bearing the inscription: Maria Skłodowska-Curie's Museum.

 

 

The museum, was officially founded in 1967, the 100th anniversary of Curie’s birth, in great part due to the efforts of the president of the Polish Chemical Society, Professor Joseph Hurwic, to chronicle Curie’s genius.

 

 

The museum is located at 16 Freta Street and remains in the care of the Polish Chemical Society. Maria Skłodowska-Curie, is an honorary member of the society.