Liebig Museum in Gießen

Right around the corner from the Mathematikum is a small but fine museum devoted to the life and work of Justus Liebig (1803-1873), the 19th century chemist for whom the university in Gießen is now named.

The eleven rooms of the museum are Liebig’s laboratory from his years as a professor at Gießen University, and a lot of his original equipment is on display. He worked and taught in this laboratory for twenty-eight years, until 1852, when he moved to the University of Munich, a much bigger and better-endowed university which built him a new and (for the time) highly modern laboratory to his specifications.

In the Liebig Museum in Gießen

Liebig is best known today as one of the founders of organic chemistry, and for his contributions to the development of nitrogen-based fertilizers.

His laboratory in Gießen has been preserved much as he left it — at first because there was no funding available to modernize it, and later because individual scientists recognized its importance for the history of chemistry. It was finally turned into a museum in 1920.

In 2020 numerous events were planned to commemorate the museum’s hundredth anniversary, but these events all had to be cancelled, or at least postponed, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Chemicals and equipment in the museum

The Liebig Museum is at Liebigstraße 12 in Gießen.

My photos in this post are from 2004. I revised the text in 2021.

See more posts on Gießen, Germany.
See more museum posts.

6 thoughts on “Liebig Museum in Gießen”

  1. I was almost as bad at chemistry as I was at languages. I went home after my last exam and I hadn’t gotten my grades for Organic Chemistry before I left. When I returned for the graduation ceremony, I wasn’t sure if I had passed the course – I didn’t know if I would get a diploma or not. (It was a class that was required for my major)

    1. That sounds like a scary situation. I unfortunately had a totally incompetent chemistry teacher in high school. The subject itself I found quite interesting, just the teacher ruined it for me. (In retrospect I feel sorry for him, since he was in way over his head, trying to teach something he didn’t understand himself.)

  2. I had a wonderful teacher in HS – he had his Masters in Chemistry from Hopkins, and he was also a DJ at night because his wife was not happy with his salary as a teacher. He later became the sports broadcaster for a local TV station. He was a great guy. It wasn’t my teachers’ fault. I could do the labs perfectly well – all I needed to do was follow the directions and I could do that. I just couldn’t understand the chemistry.

  3. Very interesting👏The glassware look the same as today. That shows Liebig laboratory was well equipped during that time. But right now we have chemistry hood for safety, especially when there are many organic solvents involved.

    1. Yes, I’m sure safety standards have evolved since then. I don’t know if Liebig had any accidents during his many years as a professor, but as a child he supposedly caused one fire and one explosion by doing unsupervised chemical experiments.

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