The CHST, center of documentation and research on the history of scientific and technical knowledge in the regions of present-day Belgium

Description of the collection

Since its foundation in 1980, among other missions, the CHST carried out emergency rescue actions of scientific, technical or industrial documents (instruments, archives, books, photos...) threatened by destruction, and aimed at making them available to researchers as well as to the general public.

This collection gathers the objects and instruments recovered during the dismantling of the non-profit organization. It contains many pieces of great historical, scientific and/or didactic interest. The muscular balance of Theodor Schwann, classified as a "Treasure" of the heritage of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation in 2018, is a good example. If, at the moment, only this piece has been the subject of a classification request, other objects have attracted our attention and will be studied in greater depth in the years to come (Koenig's large tuning fork, Giuseppe de Cesàro's Goniometer...).

Like many other pieces, this muscular balance comes from the former Institute of Physiology of the University. These objects raise questions about the limits of animal experimentation that are more relevant than ever. Until the 20th century, physiologists frequently resorted to vivisection. Their experiments generally led to the death of the test animals (horses, dogs, rabbits...). These methods, although already controversial in the 19th century, nevertheless allowed major scientific advances. The work of Léon Frédéricq, successor of Theodor Schwann at the chair of Physiology of the University of Liège, on the blood circulation and the physiology of the heart in dogs led to enormous progress in our knowledge of the functioning of the human heart.


History & development of the collection

The stocktaking of this collection is in progress. Several rooms of the University of Liege, potentially containing objects of interest, must still be emptied and their contents analyzed.

As the collection is being recovered, the items in the CHST collection are being conditioned to ensure their proper preservation until they can be studied more deeply.


The collection in the museum

The vast majority of the pieces in this collection are kept in the museum's storeroom. However, some pieces have been put on display in an anecdotal way. The large Koenig tuning fork, among others, has been directly integrated into the permanent tour of the Maison de la Science, as well as in several temporary events/exhibitions, in addition to being mentioned in several publications on social media.

Le CHST de l'Université de Liège et la mémoire du passé industriel wallon

Longtemps, les archives industrielles ont connu un sort aléatoire. Le mérite des chercheurs du CHST fut sans doute, dès les années 1980 de s’y intéresser et de le collecter. Notre souhait [...] est non seulement d’attirer l’attention sur un patrimoine riche, mais fragile par sa nature, et de convaincre de la nécessité qu’il y a désormais à le pérenniser.

Geneviève Xhayet, directrice du CHST

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