Chemical Heritage Foundation is now Science History Institute

The 35-year-old organization will celebrate a new name at its Philadelphia headquarters this evening.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) has changed its name to the Science History Institute. This change follows the 2015 merger with the Life Sciences Foundation (LSF), an organization that focused on the history of the life sciences and biotechnology. The new organization focuses on the history of chemistry, chemical engineering, and the life sciences.

At the end of 2015 the boards of CHF and the San Francisco–based LSF approved a merger of the two organizations. Meetings between CHF and LSF revealed plans and ambitions that were remarkably similar. Rather than continue on parallel paths, leadership on both sides decided to bring the two organizations together. However, the name Chemical Heritage Foundation didn’t fit the new focus of chemistry, chemical engineering, and the life sciences. The new name, Science History Institute, describes what the organization does today (studies the history of the chemical and molecular sciences and accompanying engineering fields) and leaves room to explore emerging fields as they develop.

The Science History Institute’s president and CEO, Robert G. W. Anderson, the former head of the British Museum, said, “This is a thrilling moment in the history of our organization. Our collections and our interests are broadening, and the new name will be very useful to us in the future.”

The Institute will celebrate this milestone in its history with a celebration tonight at its headquarters in Old City Philadelphia, which leaders in the cultural, political, scientific, and academic sectors are scheduled to attend. The program portion of the evening will be emceed by Maiken Scott, the host and creative director of WHYY’s weekly health and science show The Pulse.

Along with the new name, the Institute is debuting its new digital collections website featuring more than 5,000 items, including books, photographs, museum objects, letters, and advertisements. The site, which is available on the Institute’s new website,, is composed of highlights from the Institute’s museum, library, and archival collections.

More than 1,000 of these images, primarily of rare books and museum objects, are being released as public domain, free of copyright, and may be used without requesting permission. “Users will see culturally and intellectually significant items related to the history of science from the Roman Empire through the 21st century,” said Michelle DiMeo, the Science History Institute’s director of digital library initiatives. “For the first time ever, select items from our museum, library, and archival collections appear together in one database, so one could view a pH meter instruction manual held in our archives alongside the actual pH meter object in our museum.” 

About the Science History Institute

Formed by the merger of the Chemical Heritage Foundation and the Life Sciences Foundation, the Science History Institute collects and shares the stories of innovators and of discoveries that shape our lives. We preserve and interpret the history of chemistry, chemical engineering, and the life sciences. Headquartered in Philadelphia, with offices in California and Europe, the Institute houses an archive and a library for historians and researchers, a fellowship program for visiting scholars from around the globe, a community of researchers who examine historical and contemporary issues, an acclaimed museum that is free and open to the public, and a state-of-the-art conference center.


February 1, 2018