Historical sites of chemistry

Historic sites of chemistry

With the “Historic Sites of Chemistry” program, the German Chemical Society (GDCh) has been honoring achievements of historical importance in chemistry since 1999. Places of work of important scientists are recognized as places of remembrance in a ceremonial act. The aim of this program is to keep the memory of the cultural heritage of chemistry alive and to bring chemistry and its historical roots more into the public eye.

A celebratory brochure is available for each of the events, which presents the scientific work of the honorees and the significance of their work in the current context in a generally understandable form.

Programm "Historische Stätten der Chemie" der GDCh

Impressions from October 12, 2023 - The König Building with Historical Dye Collection

2023 - The König Building of the TU Dresden with the historical dye collection

Invitation flyer


The building was inaugurated in 1926 as a laboratory for colors and textile chemistry and the headquarters of the institute of the same name. The laboratory was founded in 1893 as the first university laboratory of its kind in Germany by RICHARD MÖHLAU (1857 - 1940), who headed it until 1911. HANS THEODOR BUCHERER (1869 - 1949) followed MÖHLAU as director of the laboratory from 1911 to 1913. Under the leadership of WALTER KÖNIG (1878 - 1964) from 1913 to 1954, the institute developed into a world-leading institution for research into synthetic materials Dyes and their application. KÖNIG's work on polymethine dyes was groundbreaking for the development of color photography. The name König-Bau was given during his term of office in 1953. The König-Bau also became the home of the dye collection in 1926, the oldest holdings of which date back to the middle of the 19th century. Through systematic collecting for research purposes at the Institute of Color and Textile Chemistry, a unique collection was created that documents the development of synthetic dyes from the discovery of mauvein in 1856 to the present day.

2019 - The Göttingen Old Chemical Laboratory

Invitation flyer


Johann Friedrich Gmelin (1775-1804) came to Göttingen in 1775, initially as a full professor of philosophy. In 1778 he was appointed full professor at the Medical Faculty, where he held the first full professorship in Göttingen for chemistry and Pharmacy until his death. This meant that Göttingen was ahead of other universities in setting up chemical and natural science professorships. In 1781 the Göttingen University was granted the funds to build a chemical laboratory. The plans for the construction began in 1782, in 1783 it was built. Since then, the two-story half-timbered house, known today as the "Wöhler House", has stood on Hospitalstrasse in Göttingen. The following important institute directors Friedrich Stromeyer (1776 - 1835), Friedrich Wöhler (1800 - 1882), Hans Hübner (1837 - 1884), Victor Meyer (1848 - 1897) and Otto Wallach (1847 - 1931) developed in his rooms. Göttingen has become a center of modern chemical research and a world-class training center.

2018 - The Pützer tower from Merck

Invitation flyer


Friedrich Jacob Merck, pharmacist, received from Landgrave Ludwig VI in 1668. the privilege of running the pharmacy at Schloßgraben in Darmstadt. Viewed from today, this pharmacy is the nucleus of the Merck company, which celebrated its 350th anniversary in 2018. Now this pharmacy would have deserved our memorial plaque "Historic site of chemistry", if it were still there. Instead, the Pützer Tower received this award. Since its construction in 1904, this tower has symbolized the continued existence of the Merck company, which at the time moved into its company premises at Frankfurter Strasse 250, away from the cramped area in Darmstadt's city center. Outside, in the north of Darmstadt, space has been created for the company's expansion.

The Pützer tower at the factory entrance is now a well-kept treasure of the Merck company as an industrial monument. At the interface between the company and the public, it symbolizes the importance of the company - for Darmstadt and for the world. In 350 years Merck has advanced from a pharmacy in the desolate little Landgraviate, which was battered by the 30 Years War, to a - still family-run - listed global player and has remained loyal to Darmstadt. And Darmstadt gradually became the thriving science city as we know it today.

Friedrich Pützer (1871 - 1922), full professor of architecture at the TU Darmstadt since 1902 and its later rector, was one of the defining architects of his time as a university teacher, monument conservator, town and church builder. He became an important partner for Merck when designing the new company premises. Only the Pützer Tower remains from the ensemble of buildings.

The tower was not given a technical function within the chemical company, but was designed as a "health insurance, porter and civil servants' residence". When you realize that a building the height of the Pützer Tower was something unheard of modern and completely new at the time, then it is easy to imagine that this tower was much more of a self-portrayal of the company then than it is today has fulfilled: imposing, outstanding, self-confident, hungry for the future.

2017 - August Wilhelm von Hofmann and the establishment of the German Chemical Society in Berlin


2017 was an anniversary year for the GDCh. The first national chemical societies across Europe emerged in the 19th century. This is also the case in Germany. On November 11, 1867, the German Chemical Society in Berlin was founded. The founding president was August Wilhelm von Hofmann and the place of foundation was the diorama of the Gropius brothers. Reason enough to establish a "Historic Site of Chemistry" in Berlin in the anniversary year. Although the building of the diorama no longer exists, an exception has been made to the rules of our "Historic Sites of Chemistry" program and a memorial plaque has been placed elsewhere, not far from the former location of the diorama. If you travel to Berlin today, visit the square in front of the university library of the Humboldt University, in the immediate vicinity of the Friedrichstrasse train station. There, on the middle column of light, our plaque reminds us of August Wilhelm von Hofmann and the establishment of the German Chemical Society in November 1867. After the Second World War, chemists in Germany reorganized themselves and gave their society a new name as a sign of a new beginning : Since 1949, as the German Chemical Society , we have followed the first chemical society. Many buildings and monuments in Berlin fell victim to World War II. The diorama had to give way to the construction of the light rail as early as 1876. When reading our board on the light column in front of the Jakob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum in Berlin-Mitte, you stand with your back to the tram route and therefore very close to the place where the diorama once offered its visitors exciting experiences .

2016 - Johann Wolfgang Döbereiner and the Hellfeld House in Jena

  • Chemical science symposium on September 7, 2016
  • GDCh ceremony and unveiling of the plaque on September 8, 2016

Invitation flyer Brochure 1817 Goethe noted in the "Certificates of official activity": "After Göttling's death, Serenissimus acquired his estate of apparatus and books, which were given into Döbereiner's hands, including French glassware and other tools required by modern chemistry. A laboratory was built, a house and garden purchased for spacious dwelling and freer handling of dangerous objects. " in: Georg Schwedt, Goethe als Chemiker, Springer, Heidelberg 1998, p. 146

2015 - Joh. Hartmann and the "Laboratorium Chymicum Publicum" in Marburg

Invitation flyer Brochure For July 10, 2015, the GDCh and the University of Marburg are inviting you to the unveiling of the memorial plaque "Historic site of chemistry" in Marburg. Johannes Hartmann (1568 - 1631) was appointed "Professor Publicus Chymiatriae" by Landgrave Moritz von Hessen-Kassel, the scholar, at the then still young Marburg University and set up the world's first "Laboratorium Chymicum Publicum". He taught there until 1621, when he went to Kassel as the personal physician of the Hessian landgraves. The University of Marburg began in three secularized churches. Hartmann's laboratory was located in the Franciscan monastery founded in 1234, also known as the Barfüßer monastery. The buildings of the former Franciscan monastery, which have belonged to the university since 1528, are today only partially preserved in their medieval structure; about some preserved foundations of today rises the "Institute of Sport Science and Motology" of the University of Marburg in the Discalced road 1. Chemistry existed at that time at the universities only as an auxiliary science of Medicine. Hartmann's internship participants were therefore medical students. Chymiatry refers to the part of chemistry that is committed to medicine. The students were able to listen to lectures on chymiatry and at the same time produce chymiatric recipes in the laboratory, and thus practice chemistry and drug production. His laboratory diary from 1609, written in Latin, gives a clear insight into Hartmann's work.

2014 - Friedrich August Kekulé and the Old Chemical Institute Bonn

Brochure for download On May 9, 2014, the Old Chemical Institute in Bonn - where Friedrich August Kekulé began his work in 1867 and where he lived, taught and researched until his death - was accepted into the GDCh program "Historic sites of chemistry" . You can also download the invitation flyer. Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz (1829-1896) was a German chemist and scientist who laid the foundations for the modern structural theory of organic chemistry. His daydream is famous, which is said to have led him to his benzene theory and the benzene ring and which he described in his speech at the Benzolfest in Berlin in 1890.

2013 - Dr. Otto Roelen and the Ruhrchemie plant in Oberhausen

After the oxo synthesis (hydroformylation) discovered by Otto Roelen in 1938, over twelve million tons of so-called oxo alcohols are produced annually in Oberhausen-Holten and around the world. Many chemists at least know his discovery, but only a few know the inventor. On September 24, 2013, the GDCh and the OXEA will honor the groundbreaking work of Otto Roelen (1897-1993) in the field of hydroformylation (oxo synthesis). This discovery (a reaction of olefins with carbon monoxide and hydrogen) was groundbreaking for the production of aldehydes and their derivatives (carboxylic acids and alcohols) from fossil raw materials. The Fischer-Tropsch process (production of hydrocarbons from carbon monoxide and hydrogen) and the large-scale production of high molecular weight polyethylene using the process developed by Karl Ziegler (1898 - 1973) are also recognized. With the use of oxo synthesis and Ziegler polymerization, the age of industrially used homogeneous catalysis began.

2013 - Chemical Laboratory Fresenius Wiesbaden

With the chemical laboratory Fresenius Wiesbaden, which Carl Remigius Fresenius opened in 1848, the GDCh honored the twelfth "Historic Site of Chemistry" on July 18, 2013 in Wiesbaden, thereby honoring the beginnings of analytical chemistry.

As Carl Remigius Fresenius on December 28, 1818   is born in Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt is a Free City. His grandfather pastor in Frankfurt and, worth mentioning, Goethe's baptistery, his father a lawyer. With CR Fresenius, a cross-generational tradition of chemists begins in the Fresenius family. To become a chemist and to lead the laboratory into the future, many family members of the following generations have taken on this task to this day.

CF Fresenius experimented with his first chemical experiments in his parents' garden house, started as an apprentice at the Stein'schen Apotheke in Frankfurt and studied chemistry and natural sciences in Bonn in 1840. And already he publishes. The first edition of his ?Guide to Qualitative Analysis? appears. The year 1842 sees Fresenius as state assistant at the university laboratory in Giessen and he is doing his doctorate with - Justus Liebig! In 1844, when he was almost 26 years old, he was a private lecturer in Gießen and again a year later, in 1845, he was appointed professor at the Duke of Nassau Agricultural Institute at Hof Geisberg near Wiesbaden. He marries and moves to Wiesbaden. He and his wife Charlotte Rumpf have three sons and four daughters. Two of his sons, Theodor Wilhelm and Remigius Heinrich Fresenius, will later continue his laboratory.

His big entrepreneurial idea is to found his own modern chemical laboratory, which would remove and fill the obstacles and gaps he recognized at the time in the further development of chemical sciences. The development of modern analytics takes root in his laboratory - founded and shaped by CR Fresenius to this day. He acquired the building at Kapellenstrasse 11 in Wiesbaden for the purposes of his project at his own expense and was not stopped by the turmoil of the March Revolution in 1848. With the approval of the Ducal Nassau Ministry, he opened his laboratory on May 1, 1848 with five students and an assistant. The institute grows; a few years later there are 38 students and three assistants. In 1863 he also founded the pharmaceutische Lehranstalt, and in 1862 the journal for Analytical Chemistry, which lives on to this day under the name "Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry". In 1876/77 he organized the systematic training of food chemists in his laboratory, and in 1884 a bacteriological department was opened. From 1895, preparation for the food chemist's exam in the Wiesbaden laboratory becomes possible.

CR Fresenius, the chemist, teacher, publicist and entrepreneur, had many later founders of the emerging chemical industry among his students. Here, too, he was influential.

His active life comes to an end in 1897. He dies, his descendants ensure further development - in the course of the times until today.

The GDCh has been awarding the Fresenius Prize for special achievements in the field of analytical chemistry since 1961, reminding us of CRFresenius.

Read more in the celebratory brochure: ?Historic sites of chemistry, Carl Remigius Fresenius and the Chemisches Laboratorium Fresenius?, which was published on July 18, 2013 for the unveiling of the memorial plaque in Wiesbaden and can be ordered from b.koehler@gdch.de.

2012 - former salicylic acid factory Dr. F. v. Heyden in Radebeul

On October 1, 2012, the GDCh honored the place of work of Friedrich von Heyden, Hermann Kolbe (aspirin), Richard Seifert (Odol) and in particular Richard Müller (silicone) in 01445 Radebeul, Meißner Str. 35 (formerly Salicylic Acid Factory Dr. F . v. Heyden) Over 130 years ago, Dr. Friedrich von Heyden produced a synthetic active pharmaceutical ingredient on a technical scale for the first time - salicylic acid. This makes him one of the founders of the modern pharmaceutical industry. A chemical factory was built in the village of Radebeul near Dresden for production. The old production and administration building, in which Arevipharma GmbH is currently based, is a listed building. Processes for the production of active ingredients are still being developed and optimized here. Together with his students Richard Seifert and Friedrich von Heyden, the chemist Schmitt improved the salicylic acid synthesis (Kolbe-Schmitt reaction) presented by Hermann Kolbe. Kolbe's son Carl Kolbe, also a chemist, took over the management in 1884 and the factory from its founder in 1885. His daughter Johanna married the chemist Ernst von Meyer (University of Leipzig, later TH Dresden), who was also closely connected to the factory. After the death of Hermann Kolbe, the partner and scientific Head of v. Heyden's salicylic acid factory was in Radebeul, Schmitt took over its tasks. He was also one of the founders of the German Chemical Society, to whose board he was elected in 1896. After attending the GELessing Gymnasium in Döbeln, Richard Müller studied chemistry at the University of Leipzig, where he received his doctorate in 1931. From 1933 he then worked as a laboratory manager in Radebeul in the chemical factory v. Heyden. During his research there in 1941 he succeeded in the technical production of methylchlorosilanes, which are the starting materials for the production of silicones. In parallel with him, the American chemist Eugene G. Rochow developed the same process. Since both carried out their development independently of one another, this process is now known as the Müller-Rochow synthesis. Müller played a key role in the reconstruction of the chemical industry in Radebeul after the end of the Second World War. In 1951 he received the National Prize of the GDR. In 1952 he Head of the VEB silicon chemistry in Nünchritz, an outsourced branch of the chemical factory in Heyden, and in 1953 scientific Head of the entire plant. He showed his moral courage during the uprising of June 17th, 1953, when he was the spokesman for the workforce of the now state-owned company Chemische Fabrik von Heyden. From 1954 to 1972 Müller taught as Head of the Institute for Silicone and Fluorocarbon Chemistry at the Technical University of Dresden, which made him an honorary doctorate in 1992.

2011 - Robert Bunsen's place of work in Heidelberg

Robert Wilhelm Eberhard Bunsen (born March 30, 1811 in Göttingen, ? August 16, 1899 in Heidelberg) was a German chemist. Together with Gustav Robert Kirchhoff, he developed spectral analysis, with the help of which chemical elements can be detected in a highly specific manner. He perfected the Bunsen burner named after him and invented the Bunsen element and the Bunsen photometer. In 1852 Bunsen took over the chair from Leopold Gmelin at the University of Heidelberg. Here, too, he received a new laboratory (with an official apartment). With nitric acid he succeeded in producing pure metals such as chromium, magnesium, aluminum, manganese, sodium, barium, calcium and lithium by electrolysis. In his collaboration with Sir Henry Roscoe from 1852 on, the light-induced formation of hydrogen chloride from hydrogen and chlorine was investigated. After seven years, Bunsen broke off the collaboration with Roscoe in 1859 and worked with Kirchhoff on the spectral analysis of chemical elements. With the help of Spectroscopy , the characteristic spectral lines could be examined when chemical substances are heated in flames. For this purpose, Bunsen perfected a special gas burner, which had previously been invented by Michael Faraday and which was later to be given the name Bunsen. Through the spectral analysis of Dürkheim mineral water, Bunsen and Kirchhoff discovered the alkali metals cesium and rubidium in 1860/61. Their studies also made it possible to explain the Fraunhofer lines and thus lay one of the most important foundations for modern astronomy.

2010 - Wolfen Industry and Film Museum

Brochure to download

The Wolfen film factory is of great importance as a "historical site of chemistry", since it was here that production began in 1910, initially with a motion picture film. The Wolfen film factory developed into the largest film factory in Europe by the mid-1920s.

The present museum was established in 1993 in a former foundry. Visitors can see the entire manufacturing process of a photographic film using original machines at the original location. The outstanding object is the original basting machine on which the world's first multi-layer color film (Agfacolor-Neu) was produced in 1936.

The combination of a historical production facility and an extensive archive is unique in the world.

Program of the festive event on August 27, 2010

Speech by Prof. Beck-Sickinger (on behalf of the GDCh board)

Report in the local press

2009 - Ernst Beckmann's place of work in Leipzig

Brochure to download

Honoring Ernst Beckmann's place of work, including famous Leipzig scientists

On May 15, 2009 the GDCh and the Faculty of Chemistry and Mineralogy at the University of Leipzig paid tribute to the groundbreaking work of Ernst Beckmann (1853-1923) in physical and synthetic organic chemistry.


Press release

2008 - Karl Ziegler's place of work in Mülheim / Ruhr

Brochure to download

Max Planck Institute for Coal Research Mülheim / Ruhr

On May 8, 2008, the GDCh and the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Mülheim an der Ruhr recognized the pioneering work of Karl Ziegler (1898?1973) in the field of organic and organometallic chemistry and chemical catalysis. The patent applied for in 1953 for the production of high molecular weight polyethylene at normal pressure and room temperature using "organometallic mixed catalysts" made from aluminum alkyl and transition metal compounds triggered a stormy development in the large-scale production of polyolefins, which are used in many different ways as inexpensive plastics. Research and development in the area of "Ziegler Chemistry" has retained the greatest economic and technical importance to this day. Karl Ziegler received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1963 together with Giulio Natta, who clarified the stereochemistry of the polymerization of propylene with Ziegler catalysts.
Karl Ziegler was a co-founder of the GDCh in 1946 and first president until 1951. The GDCh awards the awards given by his daughter, Dr. Marianne Witte, the Karl Ziegler Award and the Karl Ziegler Young Scientist Award.


2006 - Hans Meerwein's place of work in Marburg

Brochure to download Altes Chemisches Institut der Philipps-Universität Marburg Hans Meerwein (1879 - 1965) carried out fundamental work in the field of synthetic and mechanistic organic chemistry in this building. The discovery of the interim occurrence of carbenium ions was groundbreaking for the understanding of the course of organic chemical reactions. Many of the reactions he studied today bear his name, such as: B. the Wagner-Meerwein rearrangement. The later Nobel Prize winners in chemistry, Hans Fischer, Adolf Butenandt, Otto Hahn, Karl Ziegler and Georg Wittig also worked here as students and young scientists. Program of the festive event on September 1st, 2006.

2005 - Wilhelm Ostwald's place of work in Großbothen

Brochure to download Landsitz Haus "Energie" in Großbothen near Leipzig Wilhelm Ostwald (1853 - 1932) was one of the most important chemists of his time, and many terms are still associated with his name today. He received the Nobel Prize in 1909 for his work in the field of catalysis, chemical equilibrium conditions and reaction rates, ie the foundation of physical chemistry. Program of the festive event on September 1st, 2005.

2004 - Clemens Winkler's place of work in Freiberg

Old Chemical Institute of the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of Clemens Winkler (1838-1904), the Old Chemical Institute of the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg was included in the "Historic Chemistry Sites" program. The corresponding event took place on 20./21. October 2004 in Freiberg. From 1873 to 1902, Clemens Winkler was Professor of Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry at the Bergakademie Freiberg, where he discovered the element germanium in 1886, among other things. program

2003 - Justus von Liebig's place of work in Giessen

Brochure to download Liebig-Museum Gießen As one of the GDCh events for the year of chemistry 2003, the former Liebig'sche laboratory and current Liebig-Museum in the GDCh program "Historic Sites of Chemistry" started. Justus von Liebig (1803 - 1873) designed and set up the first modern university laboratory for chemistry in this building. He founded the experimental chemistry course here and taught and researched from 1824 to 1852. During this period, he and his students carried out pioneering and groundbreaking work in the fields of analytical, organic, agricultural and physiological chemistry.

2002 - Fritz Straßmann's place of work in Mainz

Brochure to download Institute for Nuclear Chemistry at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz Unveiling of a plaque commemorating the joint work of Lise Meitner, Otto Hahn and Fritz Straßmann. On February 22nd, 2002, the 100th birthday of Fritz Straßmann, the GDCh paid tribute to the joint work of Lise Meitner, Otto Hahn and Fritz Straßmann. They led to the discovery and interpretation of nuclear fission in 1938. In a festive event at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, where Straßmann taught and researched from 1946 to 1970, the memorial plaque "Historic sites of science" was unveiled - the second of its kind in Germany. The Institute for Nuclear Chemistry at the University of Mainz has set up its own website for this purpose.

1999 - Hermann Staudinger's place of work in Freiburg

Brochure to download Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry at the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg Hermann Staudinger (1881-1965) is considered the "father" of macromolecular chemistry. In 1999 the GDCh and the American Chemical Society (ACS) recognized the establishment of polymer science by the Nobel Prize winner Hermann Staudinger (1881-1965) as an "International Historic Milestone in Chemistry" as part of the ACS Historic Chemical Landmarks Program. On April 19, 1999, a memorial plaque was attached to the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg at the Institute for Macromolecular Chemistry .

Download out-of-print brochures

Only available as PDF:

Basic information

Are you interested in the "Historic Sites of Chemistry" program? We have compiled basic information for you.

15 years of historical sites of chemistry

Here Christoph Meinel sums up the first 15 years of our successful "Historic Sites of Chemistry" program.

Advisory body

Historic Sites Commission:
Christoph Meinel, Regensburg
Fred Heiker, Markkleeberg
Carsten Reinhardt, Bielefeld
Gisela Boeck, Rostock

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Dr. Jasmin Herr
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60486 Frankfurt aM
Tel. +49 69 7917-323
Fax +49 69 7917-1323

Email: j.herr@gdch.de

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last modified: 21.06.2024 15:29 H from N/A