An exhibition on the history of protein science has opened in Copenhagen. Situated in the main building of the Faculty of Health Sciences, ‘Primary

Substances: Treasures From the History of Protein Research’ is Medical Museion’s first major extramural exhibition.

The exhibit displays some 85 objects from the history of 20th century protein research, some quite unique, like S.P.L. Sorensen’s bottles containing

indicators for colorimetric acid-base titraton, Arne Tiselius’s original electrophoretic apparatus, a hemoglobin model built by Michael Rossman in

painted balsa wood, Kjeldahl’s original destillation equipment, the first ampoules for insulin standardisation, a large home-made model of the enzyme subtilisin-

Carlsberg, early enzymatic laundry detergents, etc.

‘Primary Substances’ not only displays cultural treasures found in museum collections, but also personal treasures, i.e., objects still in the custody of

individual researchers. The concept of ‘treasures’ thus bridges the social/historical/cultural and individual/biographical/existential dimensions of

protein research.

Like earlier exhibitions (‘Oldetopia’, ‘Design4Science’, ‘Split+Splice’, etc) at Medical Museion, ‘Primary Substances’ is experimenting with the delicate

balance between presence and meaning effects in three-dimensional history of science settings.

The exhibit highlights the aesthetic impact of the material objects and makes the textual content less intrusive, while still providing a high level of accurate

scientific information and historical context for those who are looking for it. The exhibit reflects the museum’s new policy to work closer together with

faculty and students in the health sciences and with employees in hospitals and pharma/biotech/medical device companies.

See a short presentation of the exhibit and some pics here:


‘Primary Substances’ closes by the end of December 2009.

For further information, please contact:

Thomas Söderqvist

Professor, History of Medicine

Director, Medical Museion

University of Copenhagen

[email protected]