The Collection of Scientific Instruments UNIL-EPFL is largely the result of more than two centuries’ worth of experimental physics teaching and research at the Old Academy of Lausanne, and at the University of Lausanne (UNIL). In 2003, when the UNIL Physics Section moved to EPFL, recently-retired UNIL professor Jean-François Loude rediscovered the Collection. He then took on the job of inventorying and developing it. It’s thanks to Professor Loude’s commitment that a permanent exhibition of part of the Collection, dubbed the “Museum of Physics”, was presented in 2009 in UNIL’s Cubotron building. In parallel, all objects were photographed, measured, identified, and catalogued using documents from their manufacturing periods, such as physics books, trade catalogues, patents, user manuals, etc. In 2019, when the EPFL Laboratory for the History of Science and Technology was created, the inventory contained just over 1,000 entries of instruments dating from approximately 1775 to 1960. The Collection corresponds to a wide variety of fields, from optics and nuclear physics to acoustics, electricity, and more.
The Museum of Physics, begun in 2003, was built with financial support from the University of Lausanne, EPFL, the Vaud Association of Physics Researchers, the Vaud Academic Society, the Fern Moffat and Pittet Foundations, and the Swiss Pro Patria Foundation. We would like to thank all these generous donors, as well as all those who have contributed through their work and help in setting up the Museum, or who have enriched it with their donations.