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Paris, France

Musée Curie

The history of radiation is on safe display at the foot of a radiation science laboratory. 

The Musée Curie (Curie Museum) in Paris, France, honors some of the pioneers in the field of radioactivity research by showcasing the workspace and artifacts that led to the discovery of such elements as radium and polonium. 

Focusing on the life and work of two powerhouse scientific couples, Marie and Pierre Curie, as well as Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie, the museum revisits the major stages in the history of radioactivity and its applications, notably the use of radiation in medicine. Housed in one of the oldest buildings in the Institut Curie, the museum preserves the office and lab space once used by Curies and later by the Joliots (it’s all been decontaminated for safe visiting).

The collection also includes important research documents and photographs in addition to a number of archaic-looking instruments used to experiment with their newly discovered elements. The museum offers guided tours in both French and English. 

In addition to examining the life of some of science’s most amazing couples, the Musée Curie displays show the many now-frightening uses of radioactive materials promoted before the dangers were known, such as a vintage pack of radium-laced cigarettes. There are also radium cosmetics, a hazardous application of the new radiation when its glow was seen as a sign of health. This may be the only radioactive site visitors should seek out willingly.