Between 2003 and 2020, a complete inventory of the Collection of the UNIL-EPFL Scientific Instruments was carried out by Professor Jean-François Loude. The UNIRIS service (Information Resources and Archives) of UNIL is currently working on putting it online in a scientific form. In the meantime, we offer you a virtual visit of the Collection.

A few words on the inventory

In 2003, when Prof. Loude undertook an inventory of the Collection, he only had a very partial document, which listed fewer than 200 objects. In 2020, after years of work and discoveries, the inventory now contains just over 1,000 entries.

Where several copies of an instrument, identical or differing only in small details, have been found, a single inventory entry has been made. The same applies to some relatively low-value, contemporary objects of unknown manufacturer, such as mercury thermometers, for which a single entry represents a batch of objects. The number of objects in the collection is therefore much greater than the number of individual entries.

Each object (with rare exceptions) has been photographed, measured and, as far as possible, identified and documented using contemporary manufacturing documents: old treatises and physics books, manufacturers’ catalogues, patents, instructions for use, etc. The number of objects whose function could not be determined is very small.

Following several moves of the collection through Lausanne, defective instruments have been eliminated, and the condition of the remaining objects is generally good.

A system of classification by categories [PDF in French], reflecting the division into chapters of the major classical physics treatises of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has been adopted. Additional categories represent developments in “modern” physics (X-rays, radioactivity, lamp and transistor electronics, etc.) as well as fields associated with physics in Lausanne for historical reasons (astronomy, physical chemistry and electrochemistry).