In the attic of the Department of Biotechnology lies an archive of papers and many of the tools of the first three bioscience professors at TU Delft: Martinus Willem Beijerinck, Gerrit van Iterson and Albert Jan Kluyver.
One room is maintained as a small museum, with the desk and furniture from the office used by Beijerinck and Kluyver. The clock from Beijerinck’s private lab is on display, along with a selection of photographs and their original lab keys amongst other things. “It’s set up to look as though the professor has wandered off for a cup of coffee,” explained curator, Dr. Lesley Robertson. A second room has climate-controlled archival storage where letters, manuscripts, drawings and lab journals are kept. There is also a substantial collection of teaching aids including wall charts, plant models and some 27,000 glass negatives, some of which date back to the 1880s. The museum is run largely by a group of volunteers, led by Robertson.
The team is in the process of digitalizing and cataloging the entire collection. “Part of the collection is scanned, but none of it is really digitized in such a way that’s its usable by anyone outside of the team,” explained volunteer, Louise Grütter Dyer. They often have researchers visit from all over the world.
Robertson has been with TU Delft for over 40 years, yet every week new discoveries are made. “You just can’t predict what’s going to come out of the boxes,” she said. The team recently discovered copper discs which led them to an anorthoscope. Robertson writes a blog where she shares their finds.
“You don’t have to be a scientist to be interested in this collection.
Kluyver in his letters just loves to gossip. He mentions going to a conference with Einstein, for example. The social history is fascinating,” said Grütter Dyer. “It’s a snapshot of a period of TU Delft.”
When the department moves to new premises in 2016, the collection will be relocated to the science centre. In their new home they hope to become more accessible, with tours available.
Beijerink MuseumDepartment of Biotechnology,
Opening hours:Tuesdays by appointment only