The lab was built originally for Marie Curie between 1911 and 1914 so she could continue her experiments and research. It was in 1911 that she received her second Nobel Prize, and to this day, she remains the only woman to have two.
Between 1919 and 1934 (the year Marie Curie died), the Radium Institute became the nexus of research on radioactivity. Curie spent that last 20 years of her life working at the institute alongside other scientists standing in the dawn light of the atomic age.
It is here where Curie and her team of more than 30 scientists discovered applications for radiation in medicine and in industry. On the medical front, for instance, we have radiation therapy for cancer because of the work done at the Institute. After Marie’s death, the lab was used by her daughter and son-in-law, Irène and Frédéric Joliot-Curie, who were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for their discovery of artificial radioactivity.
The lab as you see it today has been restored, and danger from radiation exposure has been eliminated. Of note, however, her original research books and manuscripts are radioactive to this day. The Christian Science Monitor published an article in 2011 on why Curie’s papers are still radioactive.
I shot the video below of her lab, including restored radiation measurement equipment. If you have an interested in Curie or in this science field, a trip to her laboratory is a must whenever in Paris.