Académie des sciences

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Louis XIV and Colbert attend the founding of the Académie (1666)
Louis XIV attends the Académie des Sciences in 1671
Académie des sciences 1698

The Paris Académie des sciences de l'Institut de France , traditionally just called the Académie des sciences ( Academy of Sciences ), is one of the five academies that have merged to form the Institut de France . It brings together French and foreign academics - in both cases particularly outstanding representatives of their subject.


The Académie des sciences owes its existence to Jean-Baptiste Colbert's plan to create an institution dedicated exclusively to research. It found its members in various scientific circles that gathered around a patron or a learned person in the 17th century . Colbert selected a small group that met on December 22, 1666 in the king's library, which had recently been established in the rue Vivienne, and which from now on met for working sessions every two weeks. The first 30 years of the academy's existence were relatively informal, as the new institute had not yet given itself a statute.

On January 20, 1699, King Louis XIV gave the society its first set of regulations. The academy received the title of Académie royale and was located in the Louvre . Consisting of 70 members, it contributed to the development of knowledge with its publications in the 18th century and, with its proximity to power, also played a political role. One of the most important work was, for example, the measurement of the earth , for which the academy equipped two large expeditions to Peru and Lapland between 1735 and 1740 .

On August 8, 1793, all academies were banned by the National Convention .

Two years later, on August 22, 1795, a national scientific institute was set up, made up of the old literary academies of natural sciences and humanities. The first class of the institute (physics and mathematics) was the largest with 66 of 144 members.

In 1805 the academy was housed in the former Collège des quatre nations . In 1816 the Académie des Sciences regained its autonomy when it joined the Institut de France . The patron of the academy is the head of state.

In 1835, under the influence of François Arago, the Academy's conference reports were created ( Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences ), which became a primary means of disseminating the scientific work in France and abroad.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the academy has experienced a decline in activity and influence. Given the accelerated development of scientific research in France, the Academy had to reform its structures and tasks in order to maintain its reputation. The first step in these reforms was carried out with the decree of May 2, 2002 (Journal Officiel n ° 104 du May 4, 2002), which allowed the election of 26 new members. The second step was the decree of January 31, 2003 (Journal officiel n ° 28 du 2 février 2003).

Female members were only admitted almost three centuries after it was founded, in 1962 (as full members only in 1979). So were Marie Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie , despite their Nobel Prizes rejected by the Academy.

The archives of the Académie des Sciences

The Académie des Sciences has always had the task of preserving its memory. It was not until the 1880s, however, that the collections of which the Academy is proud today were constituted - and reconstituted for the past. The collections consist of:

  • Minutes of the meetings, the oldest from 1666
  • Numerous writings, reports, letters, manuscripts of all kinds, presented during the meetings and collected in dossiers ( Pochettes des séances ), arranged chronologically
  • biographical dossiers on all academics who have ever belonged to the Academy, including handwritten and iconographic documents
  • Dossiers on prices; the need to award the award arose for the first time in 1720 and subsequently became acute again and again due to numerous donations
  • Sealed depots that go back to the 18th century and guarantee authors their rights to discoveries made
  • Papers from the committees and commissions that the Academy established to study scientific questions or to secure administrative responsibilities
  • an important pool of personal archives; the most notable of these archives is that of Antoine Laurent de Lavoisier , whose papers are a prime source for historians on the history of chemistry, but also on eighteenth-century politics and economics; other archives are those of Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis , René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur , André-Marie Ampère , Gilles Personne de Roberval and Jean-Baptiste Dumas , as well as those of contemporary scholars such as Pierre Duhem , Louis-Victor de Broglie and Élie Cartan , Henry Le Chatelier , Émile Borel , André Weil and Louis Néel
  • The Academy's archives also contain printed sources, the various collections of the Académie royale des sciences , the collection of the Academy's reports from 1835, digitized by the Bibliothèque nationale de France , and an important collection of portraits, busts, medals and medallions , often signed by great artists.




  • Roger Hahn: The Anatomy of a Scientific Institution. The Paris Academy of Sciences, 1666-1803 . Berkeley, Los Angeles, London 1971.
  • David J. Sturdy: Science and Social Status. The Members of the Académie des Sciences, 1666-1750 . Woodbridge 1995.
  • Caspar Hirschi: “Equality and inequality in the sciences. Debates in the Académie royale des sciences 1720–1790 ”. In: Martin Mulsow, Frank Rexroth (ed.): What may be considered scientific. Practices of demarcation in pre-modern scholarly environments . Campus, Frankfurt / New York 2014, ISBN 978-3-593-42277-0 , pp. 515-540.

Web links

Commons : Académie des sciences  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. List of the first members in: Louis Moreri: Supplement au grand dictionaire historique genealogique, geographique, & c .; pour servir à la dernière edition de l'an 1732 & aux précédents . tape 2 . Jacques Vincent, Jean-Baptiste Coignard, Pierre-Gilles Lemercier, Jean-Thomas Herissant, Paris 1735, p. 292 ( full text in Google Book Search).
  2. ^ The Royal Society's lost women scientists. The Observer by Richard Holmes, November 21, 2010.

Coordinates: 48 ° 51 '26.6 "  N , 2 ° 20' 13.2"  E