Louis Pasteur (Born Dole 27th December, 1822-Died Paris 28th September, 1895)
In Dole, in the Jura region of France, is Le Musee Pasteur, in the house in which he was born. Dole was the former capital of the County of Burgundy.
We hadn’t visited this museum before as we missed the opening hours the last time we were in Dole. We are very glad we could this time, as it’s fascinating, about a remarkable man whose findings and works changed the world forever. Even if you know nothing about him, you do at least know the words ‘pasteurization’ and ‘pasteurized’—techniques that came from his work.
The town of Dole bought this house in 1911 and opened a museum in 1923. It was renovated in 1995 and extended in 2007. It now includes two buildings adjacent to the Pasteur birth house. Dole has always paid tribute to Pasteur. In 1883, in the presence of his family and important people, Pasteur took part in the inauguration of a plaque identifying the house where he was born. When he died, the Town Council began an international fundraising campaign to erect a monument in his memory. The whole town was covered in flowers for its inauguration in August 1902 in the Cours Saint-Mauris.
This Dole museum has been carefully developed and goes through Pasteur’s life, the family atmosphere, and especially his scientific works. The information boards are all in French but there is an English laminated booklet that you can request and carry round to read.
In the family room we see his baptismal bonnet, a bassinet, his theses in physics and chemistry, some of his wife’s jewelry, some of Pasteur’s paintings (he was also a talented artist).
Pasteur’s father, Jean-Joseph Pasteur, was a tanner, in this house on the canal from 1816-1826 where all the tanners lived, on la rue des Tanneurs. In the basement there are stories about tanners and tanning, and examples of tools of the trade. Tanning continued here on the left bank of the Doubs River until 1952. Louis was very inspired by his father’s work ethic and enthusiasm.
The house was a decent size when the Pasteurs lived there but the museum has now also expanded into two adjacent buildings. Things are well set out and well lit and we begin to get a really good idea of what Pasteur did and achieved. There are many of his books and documents, his microscopes and test culture flasks. He is probably most remembered for researching fermentation and the invention of pasteurization, discovering microbes and the importance of hygiene, and the first vaccinations. His work was wide-ranging.
For example, he studied silkworm diseases, coal, puerperal fever; fowl cholera and a vaccine for it; an anti-anthrax vaccination; rabies prophylaxis after being bitten.
Through the display cabinets, models and cartels in the various rooms, we see the amazing richness of his work. He was a physicist and chemist, specialized in studying crystals, who was also interested in the fermentation, making and keeping of wine and beer; silkworm, hen and sheep diseases; and discovering pathogenic microbes and the way of tempering them to make vaccines.
So, he was actually the first microbiologist and the exhibit shows this—just up my husband, Rod’s, street as he is also a microbiologist! Another section shows how he influenced so many other microbiologists, so it’s very relevant to Rod’s work, and affects all our lives every day.
Upstairs are nice displays on the Pasteur Institute in Paris, which opened in 1888, and other centers around the world, which continue his work.
It’s nice to know that this house was recognized as important in Pasteur’s lifetime and he was here at the plaque inauguration to give a speech. He has also been honored through paintings, sculptures, stamps, medals and money.
A very inspiring visit and another time we’d like to visit his place in Arbois too. It was here that he did a lot of work on wine. Besides microbes and diseases, Louis Pasteur is also linked to the vine and wine and is considered the father of modern oenology. Many of his important studies on fermentation and ageing of wines (Etudes sur le Vin) were actually carried out in Arbois with wine made from the Pasteur family vineyard, a small plot that is still cultivated today. Pasteur was the first to identify that wine fermented through the action of micro-organic yeasts feeding on the natural grape sugars of the must. He also established that aceto-bacteria, in contact with oxygen, destroy wine by turning it into vinegar. Small amounts of oxygen, as absorbed through a cask or cork, however, allow wine to develop and mature. Pasteur’s studies did much to make wine-making a science, not a hit-and-miss affair based on country and folk remedies and superstitions.
Maison Natale Pasteur
Entrance is 5 euros per adult, and is well worth it.
43 Rue Pasteur, Dole.
April-Oct: Tues-Sat 10-12 and 2-6; Sun and holidays 2-6
Nov-March: Tues-Sun 2-6
Closed special holidays.
See the good web site, in French, English, and German.