25 years celebration

Kluyver was not a microbiologist by training. He had qualified in Delft as a Chemical Engineer (as microbiology graduates do to this day), and then taken up a position as assistant to Professor van Iterson. His Doctoral thesis was on biochemical sugar determinations, and this interest in (bio)chemical reactions was to stay with him throughout his life, and colour many of his most important achievements. His belief that applied microbiology could make a major contribution to civilized society could already be seen in his inaugural address on first becoming a Professor. He focused especially on the energy shortage that he believed would come, and talked of the biological production of fuel alcohol as well as other products including fats, proteins and the simpler organic acids.

A.J. Kluyver and C.B. van Niel in Kluyver's office in 1956

Among the papers in the archive is a poster prepared by the occupants of Kluyver's lab to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his becoming a Professor. It is very large and far too fragile to display in the museum. Some of the sketches the staff used to illustrate Kluyver's Delft career will be shown here. In addition to the subjects that the staff considered to be the high points of his first 25 years, their affection for "the Master" shines through in some of the more personal jokes, including several comments on his smoking… Kluyver was rarely photographed without a cigarette or cigar, leading the staff to offer him a gift token for a canary to monitor air quality!


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