The demolition of Marie Curie’s Paris lab has been temporarily suspended as campaigners fight to get the building marked as a historic monument.
The Nobel prize-winning scientist’s lab, located at No26 rue d’Ulm in Paris’s Latin Quarter, was supposed to be bulldozed to the ground Monday, but French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak stepped in to stop it.
Malak announced the demolition would be “suspended” after he consulted the property owners, The Curie Institute, to examine “possible alternative,” The Guardian reported.
The last minute intervention comes after people petitioned President Emmanuel Macron and other government ministries to preserve the lab and the lime and plane trees surrounding it that Curie planted.
Campaign leader, Baptiste Gianeselli, called the last minute news “fantastic,” but said the work isn’t over yet.
“The threat is not completely gone as long as the building is not classified as a historic monument. So we have to keep up the pressure,” he said, according to The Guardian. “If Emmanuel Macron doesn’t understand that it’s not just a historic building but one of the last symbols of Marie Curie, the most illustrious woman of our era, it would be a very serious mistake. It’s unthinkable.”
Gianeselli argued that buildings linked to Louis Pasteur – a French chemist – were protected, so he believes Curie’s should be too.
Claudine Monteil, who has written books about the scientist, said Curie is an “inspiration for women’s everywhere,” and her lab is a “world heritage” site.
“I think they don’t realize what it means symbolically. Marie Curie is the most famous woman scientist in the world and is a reference and inspiration,” she said.
Curie had moved to France at the age of 24 to study at Sorbonne, where she would later become a professor.
The scientist is best know for her and her husband’s discovery of radium from uranium, which won them the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903. She won her second Nobel Prize in Chemistry a few years later.
Her laboratory was built in 1909 in collaboration with the Pasteur Institute and the University of Paris.
The building that faces demolition is one of three buildings that made up the Radium Institute – now known as the Curie Institute. She used it to prepare radioactive materials for her research.
During her tenure in Paris, she developed mobile X-ray units and helped develop radiation for cancer treatments.
Curie’s vacation home in Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse was bought by a Polish billionaire in 2022 a year after the Polish government announced it wanted to buy the property.