A project of a special kind
In autumn 2015, the Universitätsarchiv Würzburg initiated, together with the presidential office, a special project to reprocess the history of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität. This time, the project should not take place within the framework of publications and online releases, lectures and exhibitions, but in the midst of Würzburg, freely accessible for all citizens. On well-arranged Plaques of Honour there are various personalities of the history of the University displayed, with some of them having a reputation that exceed national borders – like Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen -, and others being indispensable for their discipline, without being known to the public – like for example the linguist Matthias Lexer. In addition to the portrait, the Plaques offer a short overview of the most important data of each scholar and a QR-Code, with which interested readers can receive additional information.
The Number of Plaques grows steadily
By now, over thirty Plaques of Honour have found their place in Würzburg and give pedestrians the chance “to see in passing, that here once was living a personality, that changed the world with his or her scientific achievement,” President Forchel said, who met the initiative with enthusiasm. The plaques are favourably placed at former dwellings of the scholars, but in exceptional cases can also be found at their places of work. Through this approach, the personalities are integrated into the cityscape and give a face to the scientific success of Würzburger scientists.
A wish becomes an initiative
The initiative to this action came from three former professors of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität – Horst Brunner, Walter Eykmann and August Heidland. “In the 19th Century, Würzburg was a Mecca of medical science, but until recently there were no Plaques of Honour about it at all”, said August Heidland. In Göttingen, by contrast, there are more than 300 of such plaques, according to the professor, and they are also present in the cityscape of Jena or Vienna.
Hundreds of Scholars – how to make the right choice?
The selection of individual scholars is carried out through several aspects. Firstly, all scientific disciplines should be represented equally strong. Secondly, the scientific achievements, not the political engagement, should be brought to focus. Therefore, politically burdened individuals, that possibly made huge achievements for science, cannot be taken into account. Apart from a few exceptions, like the current Nobel laureates, living scholars will not be honoured, as the complete works of their scientific activity will be considered retrospectively.
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