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The oldest scientific institutes of SAS

In June 2023, the Slovak Academy of Sciences celebrates the seventieth anniversary of its foundation. Act No. 64 on the Slovak Academy of Sciences was adopted by the Slovak National Council on June 18, 1953. This date should be seen as the completion of the long-term efforts of personalities of scientific and political life, which preceded the approval of the act. After all, the approval itself was twice postponed. The original ideas envisaged the creation of the Slovak Academy of Sciences at the end of 1952, following the example of the newly founded Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (ČSAV). The reason for the postponement was disputes over the concept of the organization of science in Czechoslovakia and, within it, the position and structure of the future SAS.

The Board of Representatives, as the main body of the executive power in Slovakia, established in September 1952 the Commission of the Board of Representatives for the establishment of the Slovak Academy of Sciences to prepare the organizational foundations of the new institution. Several scientific personalities who played a significant role in the beginnings of building scientific organizations of the Slovak Republic and are considered founding personalities in their scientific field in Slovakia became members of the commission: Dionýz Blaškovič, Jozef Čabelka, Ladislav Dérer, Ján Gonda, Miloš Gosiorovský, Igor Hrušovský, Dionýz Ilkovič, Vladimír Kozlík, Eugen Palášthy, Jozef Vašátko, František Votruba and Anton Žiak.

Prví akademici SAV

The first SAS academicians
Source: G. Obadalová a Archive of SAS

In the period from the fall of 1952 to the beginning of the summer of 1953, the Commission laid the organizational foundations of ten new scientific institutes, which were taken over by SAS after the enactment, but date their establishment prior to June 18, 1953. However, as shown below, they are not the oldest in the Academy. The following is a list of institutes in chronological order, pointing out the continuity that connects them with the current scientific organizations of SAS.

In October 1952, the following were established:

  • The Laboratory of Geobotany and Plant Ecology (renamed from 1953 to the Laboratory of Geobotany and Systematics of Plants) - in 1957, it became part of the Institute of Biology SAS, which has evolved into the Plant Science and Biodiversity Center SAS, Institute of Molecular Biology SAS, or the Institute of Landscape Ecology SAS.
  • Institute of Construction and Architecture SAS - under the same name but with the addition of the abbreviation v. v. i.; it still operates today, and we can state that it is the absolute winner in the competition for the least number of organizational changes during the existence of the Academy of Sciences.
  • Commission of Inorganic Chemistry - today´s Institute of Inorganic Chemistry SAS
  • The Cabinet of History of Technical and Natural Sciences, which in 1960 was incorporated into the Institute of History SAS
  • In November 1952, the Laboratory for Wood, Cellulose and Artificial Fibre Research was founded. Although the institute was incorporated into the Institute of Chemistry SAS in 1954, it created the organizational foundations for one of the best contemporary scientific organizations – the Polymer Institute SAS
Budova Predsedníctva SAV

The building of the Presidium of SAS on Štefánikova street in Bratislava
Source: Archive of SAS

It is possible to date the beginning of the activity of four scientific organizations of the SAS to January 1, 1953:

  • Helminthological Laboratory in Košice - today´s Institute of Parasitology SAS,
  • Faunistic laboratory – in 1957, it was incorporated into the Institute of Biology SAS under the name of the Department of Zoology; its scientific research activity is now followed by the Institute of Zoology SAS,
  • Laboratory of Experimental Cytology - probably also started its activity on 1. 1. 1953; the laboratory is one of the legal predecessors of today's Centre of Experimental Medicine SAS, specifically of its organizational unit Institute for Heart Research SAS.

In March 1953, it was possible to complete preparations for the establishment of two scientific institutes in the field of technical sciences:

  • The Laboratory for Mechanical Engineering and Metallurgy - is the direct legal predecessor of two scientific organizations of the SAS: Institute of Materials Research in Košice and Institute of Materials and Institute of Materials and Machine Mechanics in Bratislava,
  • Water management laboratory - today´s Institute of Hydrology SAS.

The Institute of Virology of CSAS, established on January 1, 1953, is the last of the institutes established before the enactment of the SAS. As the name suggests, it was founded as an institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. Although it was founded and based in Bratislava, it became part of SAS only from 1. 1. 1969.

The task of the Commission of the Board of Representatives for the establishment of the SAS was also to ensure the organizational transfer of already existing scientific institutes to the newly established Slovak Academy of Sciences. The SAS entered the history of Slovak science with the following structure:

It took over ten institutes from the Slovak Academy of Sciences and Arts (1942):

  • Institute of History (*1943)
  • Institute of Linguistics (*1943)
  • Institute of Slovak Literature (*1943)
  • Institute of Geography (*1943)
  • Institute of Musicology (*1943)
  • Institute of Philosophy (*1946)
  • Cabinet of Ethnography (*1946)
  • Institute for Legal and Economic Sciences (*1948)
  • Library (*1942) and Publishing House (*1945)

The SAS took over ten scientific institutes from the departments:

  • Laboratory of Geophysics in Hurbanovo (*1871)
  • Arboretum in Mlyňany (*1892)
  • Institute of Archaeology (*1942)
  • Astronomical Observatory at Skalnaté Pleso (*1943)
  • Institute for Glycide and Carbohydrate Research (*1946)
  • Research Institute of Animal Production in Vígľaš (*1947)
  • Institute of Experimental Pharmacology (*1949)
  • Botanical Garden in Košice (*1950)
  • Research Institute of Plant Production in Borovce (*1951|)
  • Laboratory of Plant Biology (*1952 as a department of the State Central Institute of Biology)
Observatórium Astronomického ústavu SAV na Skalnatom plese

Observatory of the Astronomical Institute SAS at Skalnaté pleso
Source: Archive of SAS

Of course, the establishment of new organizations of the Academy continued at a significant pace even after its enactment.

This year, the Archive of SAS is also commemorating the anniversary of its foundation. For 60 years, it has served as a memory of the Academy, preserving valuable sources that document its history, mission and contribution continuously up to the present day.

Edited: Kristína Majerová, Archive of SAS, Centre of Operations of SAS