Chemical Landmark 2014

The laboratory in Reichenau Castle

Designated as «Chemical Landmark» on September 12 2014.

The laboratory in Reichenau Castle, a testimony of research of the mid-19th century, was designated as «Chemical Landmark».

The laboratory in Reichnau Castle (Copyright: Barbara Winter-Werner)
The laboratory in Reichnau Castle (Copyright: Barbara Winter-Werner)

In 1852 Adolf von Planta (1820-1895) had a laboratory built in a wing of Reichenau Castle. There, von Planta performed research in natural sciences such as water and soil analysis, physiological processes, and botany. Between 1852 and 1853, he was assisted by August Kekulé (1829-1896), who had just completed his doctoral studies under the supervision of Justus von Liebig. They worked together on alkaloid analysis e.g. nicotine. Later in his career, Kekulé made important discoveries in organic and structural chemistry, which include the tetravalency of the carbon atom or the proposition of a cyclic structure for benzene. The laboratory has been conserved in its original setting and is therefore a testimony to research of the mid-19th century.

August Kekulé (Copyright: Gian-Battista von Tscharner)
August Kekulé (Copyright: Gian-Battista von Tscharner)
Adolf von Planta (Copyright: Gian-Battista von Tscharner)
Adolf von Planta (Copyright: Gian-Battista von Tscharner)

The award ceremony was held on 12 September 2014 in Reichenau, during which a commemorative plaque was unveiled and affixed at the entrance of the castle.

The ceremony was opened by Prof. Dr. Katharina Fromm, President of the «Platform Chemistry» of SCNAT, who welcomed the audience and presented the «Chemical Landmark» program. Gian-Battista von Tscharner, today's owner of the Reichenau castle, then presented a retrospective of the site. The importance of Kekulé's contributions to chemistry was emphasised in the laudation of Prof. Dr. Richard R. Schrock, professor at MIT and Nobel laureate in chemistry 2005.

Media coverage

- Die Südostschweiz
- ruinaulta
- Tele Südostschweiz
CHIMIA 2014, 68, 150

Nominations

Nominations for the next round of designations are now open:

Everyone – chemist or non-chemist, historian or non-historian – is encouraged to submit their nomination to the «Platform Chemistry».

Share with us an aspect of Swiss chemical history by providing a description of the site or place with a detailed statement of its historical importance (max. 3 A4 pages).
Further documentations (pictures, articles etc.) are welcome.

The proposals will be reviewed by a committee of chemists, chemical engineers, and science historians.

Contact:

SCNAT
Platform Chemistry
Laupenstrasse 7
3008 Bern

chemistry@scnat.ch.com [without ".com"]