In 2023, the Institut Pasteur began work to restore and renovate its historical listed building. Behind closed doors, members of the museum team and heritage professionals are working to preserve the site and the objects that bear witness to the Institut Pasteur's history. The first stage in the restoration process was a major collection review, which took place from November 2, 2022 to May 31, 2023.
Definitions for the technical terms in bold can be found in a glossary at the end of the article.
In 1936, the apartment where Louis and Marie Pasteur spent the last years of their lives became the Pasteur Museum. In November 2022, a major project was launched to renovate and restore this listed historical monument. This is an opportunity for a modernization of the museum before it is scheduled to reopen in 2027, when it will aim to offer an entirely new visitor experience.
Before embarking on any refurbishment work, it was important to carry out a thorough assessment and stocktake of the cultural heritage preserved at the site. Between November 2022 and May 2023, a collection review was conducted with the company GRAHAL, which specializes in managing heritage projects and enhancing heritage assets.
A rigorous study of more than 12,000 items in the museum collection
The collection review involved performing an extensive inventory and survey, digitizing, photographing, removing dust and establishing the condition of all the items in the museum's collection. At the start of the process, the collection was estimated to contain 9,000 items, but by the end of the seven-month period, 12,406 objects had been reviewed.
For this mammoth task, the museum team worked in conjunction with conservation assistants, collection managers and restoration professionals. More than twenty professionals were involved in the review.
Removing dust from the frame of the portrait "Pasteur in his laboratory" by Albert Edelfelt. © François Gardy/Institut Pasteur
More than twenty heritage professionals involved
"During the inventory, we check the general condition of each item to see whether it needs to be consolidated before the move. This is vital, although it is not the same thing as restoration work," explains Emma Bonvin, the manager in charge of coordinating operations in May 2023. The all-female GRAHAL team who worked on the review was not chosen at random. They have all completed training in collection management and preventive conservation at the Ecole du Louvre and are able to recognize the materials an object is made of and identify any fragilities so that dust can be removed using an appropriate method.
Since the collections in the Pasteur Museum are extremely varied, restoration professionals specializing in a wide variety of fields – sculpture, painting, graphic art, photography, frames, glass and ceramics, metals and textiles – were involved at different stages of the review. They established the condition of each item to determine whether consolidation work was required.