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Poland wants to buy Marie Sklodowska Curie’s holiday house near Paris

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Warsaw, Poland – Poland will try to buy the vacation house of Nobel laureate Marie Sklodowska Curie and her husband Pierre in France, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Twitter earlier this week.

Poland plans to purchase Marie Curie’s holiday house in France

The Polish Premier wrote that the 19th century house in Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuses, on the outskirts of Paris, where the two world-famous scientists spent week-ends and holidays from 1904 to 1906, is “part of Poland’s history”.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is already in contact with the Polish embassy in France” to start negotiations for the purchase of the estate, Morawiecki added.

A spokesman for the Polish government said that if bought by the state, Marie Curie’s vacation house would be turned into a museum and cultural center presenting the achievements of the Polish-born chemist and physicist.

The 120-square-meter building and its 900-square-meter garden has been put on the market for almost €800,000, with the estimated €200,000-estimated costs of renovation putting the total investment at around €1 million.

Pierre and Marie Curie, along with their children, “came here during week-ends, Easter holidays, summer holidays,” Daniel Cazou-Mingot, the head of the real estate agency, told AP. “There’s been no experiments done [on] this property.”

“It constitutes a unique heritage testimony having welcomed a man and a woman who contributed to the influence of France throughout the world,” reads the description on the real estate agency’s website.

Marie Sklodowska Curie, a trailblazing pioneer

While some have expressed their support for the Polish government’s plan, others remain sceptical, noting that Marie Curie is more part of France’s history than Poland’s. Having left Warsaw at the age of 24 on a Russian passport, she never actually received Polish citizenship (at the time, Poland was partitioned between Russia, Prussia and Austria, and would only regain independence after World War I), while spending most of her career in France. Some have also questioned the merits of spending tax-payers’ money on a house where she only spent a few weeks in her life.

Born in Warsaw in 1867, Maria Sklodowska moved to France in the early 1890s with very little resources. She was one of the first women to study physical and mathematical sciences at the Sorbonne in Paris and married French physicist Pierre Curie in 1895. The couple – along with French scientist Henri Becquerel – jointly won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 for their work on radioactivity.

Saint-Remy-les-Chevreuses, where Pierre and Marie Curie spent week-ends and holidays in the early 1900s, is located roughly 40 km south-west of Paris.

After the blow caused by the sudden death of her husband in 1906, Marie Curie was appointed as the first woman professor at the Sorbonne University, and won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 for her discovery of radium and polonium (the latter named after Poland). In 1932, she oversaw the inauguration of the Radium Institute in her native city of Warsaw, with her sister Bronislawa as director.

She was the first woman in history to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win two of them, and the only woman to date to receive the coveted award in two different fields (the only other to have achieved this feat being American chemist and peace activist Linus Pauling, recipient of the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and Peace in 1954 and 1962, respectively).

Marie Curie is one of only five women to have been given the honour of resting in the Paris Panthéon, the final resting place of some of the most illustrious figures in French history.

Widely considered as one of the most trailblazing women in history who shattered numerous glass ceilings during her life, she died in France in 1943 from leukemia caused by radiation. In 1995, Marie Curie’s ashes (along with her husband Pierre’s) were enshrined in the Pantheon in a ceremony attended by Polish President Lech Walesa.

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