Two hundred years ago, on December 27, 1822, Louis Pasteur was born in the town of Dole, in the Jura region of France. The year 2022 was an opportunity to celebrate Louis Pasteur's scientific and cultural legacy and to give people a chance to discover – or rediscover – his life and work.
On December 27, 1822, Louis Pasteur was born to Jean-Joseph Pasteur, a tanner, and his wife Jeanne-Étiennette Pasteur. Two hundred years on, we celebrate the man and the scientist whose achievements helped revolutionize the 19th century and whose legacy continues to this day through his discoveries and the approach to research at the Institut Pasteur.
Several initiatives under a single banner
Louis Pasteur's heritage is shared by a series of partners* who decided to join forces to create a bicentenary label that would bring the various commemorative initiatives under the same banner. The partners also developed a website, pasteur2022.fr, to provide information about all the initiatives. The bicentenary was officially recognized by France Mémoire in the 2022 calendar of national commemorations.
The 200th anniversary label. The portrait of Louis Pasteur represented on the label is the work of artist Fabrice Hyber.
*The Institut de France (the French Academy of Sciences, the Académie française and France Mémoire), the Institut Pasteur, the French Academy of Medicine, the French Academy of Agriculture, the French Veterinary Academy, the École Normale Supérieure – PSL, the "La main à la pâte" Foundation, the Institut Pasteur de Lille and the University of Strasbourg.
Events around France
Several academic events about Louis Pasteur, his scientific achievements and his legacy were held in various places in France. Institut Pasteur staff took part in the "Rendez-vous de l'histoire" festival in Blois, the Innovation in Biology Conference, three conferences organized successively on December 7, 8 and 9 by the Institut Pasteur, the French Academy of Sciences and the Académie française, and the French Academy of Medicine, as well as a number of other events in France.
- Watch the conference "Epidemics, pandemics: a never-ending story?" held at the Institut Pasteur.
- Watch the conference "Pasteur, a visionary" held at the Institut de France.
- See the full series of bicentenary events here.
Events around the world
At the inauguration of the Institut Pasteur on November 14, 1888, Louis Pasteur proclaimed that "science knows no country." This vision of a science without borders led just a few years later to the establishment of the Institut Pasteur International Network, renamed the Pasteur Network in 2021. This year, it was the bicentenary celebrations that knew no borders, with several countries taking advantage of the anniversary to pay tribute to the French scientist.
The Hellenic Pasteur Institute and the Institut français in Greece held a conference and an exhibition about Louis Pasteur. The Royal Society hosted a conference at its premises in London led by scientists from the Institut Pasteur and British scientists. The cities of Dresden in Germany, Warsaw in Poland, Niamey in Niger, Copenhagen in Denmark and Antananarivo in Madagascar also held events to commemorate the bicentenary.
A variety of exhibitions in France
From March to July, the exhibition "Albert Edelfelt, lumières de Finlande" was held at the Petit Palais in Paris. The exhibition was dedicated to the Finnish painter Albert Edelfelt and included a specific section on the Pasteur family featuring six works from the Pasteur Museum, five of which were painted by Edelfelt.
The Institut Pasteur also designed an exhibition looking back at the life and work of Louis Pasteur in a series of 11 display boards. The exhibition was available to download free of charge and proved to be a resounding success with town halls, schools and other institutions in France and abroad.
From October 12 to February 6, 2023, at the Hôtel de Soubise in Paris, the French National Archives are presenting the exhibition "Face aux épidémies. De la Peste noire à nos jours" (Tackling epidemics. From the Black Death to the present day), which looks at the impact of major epidemics on French society and how health policies have changed over time. Various items from the collections in the Pasteur Museum were loaned for the exhibition.
Several books and articles about Louis Pasteur published in 2022 to mark the bicentenary
Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the biographies and other books published in 2022:
- "Pasteur à la plage: Le monde des microbes dans un transat" (Pasteur at the beach: The microbial universe in a deckchair) by Maxime Schwartz and Annick Perrot. Éditions Dunod.
- "Pasteur. L’homme et le savant" (Pasteur. The man and the scientist) by Annick Perrot and Maxime Schwartz. Éditions Tallandier.
- "Pasteur" by Michel Morange. Éditions Gallimard.
- "Lettres à Loulou dit Pasteur" (Letters to Loulou, AKA Pasteur) compiled by Daniel Raichvarg. Éditions Thierry Marchaisse.
Some comic books were also produced for the occasion:
- "L'Ara de Rosa – Les microbes" (Rosa's Parrot – Microbes) by Frédéric Keck and Pierre-Yves Cezard. Éditions du Sabot Rouge.
- "Louis Pasteur, une vie au service de la vie" (Louis Pasteur, a life at the service of life) by CÉKA, Laurent Seigneur and François Fleury. The comic book contains a foreword by Maxime Schwartz and texts by Erik Orsenna introducing each chapter. Éditions du Sekoya.
A number of articles were also published:
- Gallica celebrated the bicentenary of Louis Pasteur's birth with a series of blog posts tracing his life story.
- The journal The Lancet (Volume 400, Number 10369) paid tribute to Louis Pasteur on his bicentenary.
- The Institut Pasteur's Scientific Information Resources Center (CeRIS) provided a series of online resources about the scientist.
- The report "Louis Pasteur: a universal legacy" was published in the Institut Pasteur's Research Journal.
Other events and occasions that marked the bicentenary year
The packed bicentenary program also included several other highlights.
The official launch of the Louis Pasteur stamp issued by La Poste on February 15, 2022.
The 8th stage of the 2022 Tour de France starting in Dole, Louis Pasteur's birthplace, on July 9, 2022.
The release for sale of a commemorative coin bearing Louis Pasteur's image by the Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint) in early December.
The development of a learning scheme for primary and middle school students, designed by the "La main à la pâte" Foundation in partnership with the Institut Pasteur. The scheme presents some of the major scientific discoveries to which Louis Pasteur made a significant contribution – fermentation, germ theory, vaccination and immunity –, which paved the way for modern microbiology.
A "Pasteur ethos" that will last beyond 2022...
Louis Pasteur left us with his convictions about science, about how to perform research and what it can bring to society. The celebration of the bicentenary of his birth was an opportunity to look back at the foundations for what would become a leading scientific institution in the 20th century. In 2023, the Institut Pasteur will pursue its scientific and humanist mission in biomedical research, and it will celebrate two more anniversaries: 40 years since the discovery of HIV and 20 years since the discovery of the first genes involved in autism.
Louis Pasteur Bicentenary Prize: five scientists rewarded