The press release, signed by the hand of the Minister of Culture, was released on Wednesday morning. The Pavilion des Sources, a small building where Marie Curie worked in the heart of the 5th arrondissement of Paris, will be preserved while the project to build a campus of the Institut Curie planned for its destruction. “The pavilion will be dismantled and reassembled stone by stone a few dozen meters away, adjacent to the museum which will thus be enlarged,” announces Rachida Dati. The Sources pavilion is at the convergence of two major issues: that of the memory of the greatest female scientist of modernity, Marie Curie, and that of the future of cancer research, of which Paris is the first place in Europe. They don't object. Supporting the research of tomorrow means respecting great researchers by having the constant concern to extend their research approaches.”
The solution found, quite radical, will take several months to be implemented: it will be necessary to decontaminate the building, dismantle it, then reassemble it near the already existing Curie museum. But this perspective must be able to put an end to a controversy which has lasted for several weeks.
The Institut Curie, owner of the walls, submitted a demolition permit in March 2023 for the pavilion in which the Nobel Prize winner had worked - also considered polluted. He wants to build a five-story building instead to install “the first biological chemistry center for cancer in Europe”. The institute obtained its permit from the Paris town hall, the small pavilion not being classified.
As soon as it was displayed in public space, the permit created a wave of indignation, from heritage protection associations, SOS Paris in the lead. If Marc Joliot, great-grandson of the double Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, assured that he was in favor of the demolition of the Sources pavilion, in the name of the “very important scientific project of fundamental research on cancer, (...) acclaimed by the scientific council of the Institut Curie", heritage defenders stood up against the disappearance of this small symbolic building.
“The little pavilion belongs to the living heritage of a France of Enlightenment, of a France of equality,” underlined an article published by Le Figaro at the beginning of January. Based on the figure of Marie Curie, there is an exemplary model to offer to younger generations, to young girls who refrain from treading a land that is still largely masculine, that of the so-called hard sciences.” Among the signatories, Stéphane Bern; the host did not mince his words to denounce the “scandal” that the project constituted in his eyes. “I think that Emmanuel Macron is not aware of the seriousness of the situation, and I am not sure that everyone understands the ins and outs of this situation,” he explained to Le Figaro.
Also mobilized were several opposition elected officials from Paris town hall, including Rachida Dati. In October, the latter wrote to the former Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, to ask for the site to be included in the "Inventory of Historic Monuments", while deploring that the "preservation of Parisian heritage" was “too little taken into account by the Paris town hall in the town planning operations that it authorizes”.
Faced with the emotion aroused, the previous Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, announced at the last minute the suspension of demolition work in January and called for “two months” to develop an “alternative”. “In the field of heritage, I know, dear Rachida, that you will watch over the destiny of the Marie Curie Sources pavilion,” she declared during the transfer of power with Rachida Dati on January 12.
This is what is done, with the full support of Sylve Retailleau, Minister of Higher Education and Research. As well as that of the Institut Curie, which had suggested this dismantling and reassembly stone by stone, at its own expense. As for heritage protection associations, they do not all seem convinced by the solution envisaged. History and Heritage believes, on social networks, that the idea is “bad” and that it “betrays the coherence of the whole around the Marie-Curie garden”.