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CHOC and AIChE officially join

The Center for History of Chemistry (CHOC) and AIChE join on November 2, 1983. From left: AIChE president Robert Marshall, Penn trustee John Eckman, ACS president Fred Basolo, and CHOC director Arnold Thackray.

Science History Institute/Dick Seltzer

Early Years

In 1982 the Center for the History of Chemistry was launched by the University of Pennsylvania and the American Chemical Society. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers became the third sponsor in 1984. By 1987 the center was incorporated as a nonprofit organization called the National Foundation for the History of Chemistry. It was renamed the Chemical Heritage Foundation in 1992 to better reflect its interdisciplinary nature and the widening scope of its programs and activities.

A Historic Building and Renovation

In October 2008 CHF completed a massive renovation of the historic 1865 First National Bank building, home to the organization’s headquarters in Philadelphia. The renovation included conference center facilities and a new museum housing a permanent exhibition, Making Modernity, and a changing exhibitions gallery. The transformation of the space and the design of Making Modernity were the collaborative effort of SaylorGregg Architects, CHF’s curatorial and exhibition staff, and Ralph Appelbaum Associates, renowned designers of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

The renovated facility employs ecologically sensitive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) principles, including new insulation, wall tile made from recycled glass, and bathroom floors made from recycled cans.

Transforming in the 21st Century

On December 1, 2015, the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the Life Sciences Foundation finalized their historic merger. The merged organization covered the history of the life sciences and biotechnology together with the history of the chemical sciences and engineering—two of the largest and most significant branches of modern science and technology. As part of this merger the Chemical Heritage Foundation became the Science History Institute in February 2018.

The Science History Institute stands at the intersection of science and society. The new name reflects our organization’s more expansive vision and inclusive nature, with a focus on chemistry, engineering, and the life sciences. The Institute is committed to exploring the vital roles that science and technology have played in shaping our world and how that history is crucial to the future. To that end we will continue collecting, preserving, and exhibiting historical artifacts and engaging communities of scientists and the scientifically-curious public. Above all, the Institute remains committed to telling the compelling stories of the people responsible for extraordinary scientific achievement.