Danzig Research Society

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Green Gate building
Danzig Research Society building 1846-1936
Jacob Theodor Klein

The Danzig Research Society (German: Naturforschende Gesellschaft in Danzig, Latin: Societas Physicae Experimentalis, Polish: Gdańskie Towarzystwo Przyrodnicze) was founded in 1743 in the city of Danzig (Gdańsk), in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and continued in existence until 1936. The Societas Physicae Experimentalis (Experimental Physics Society) is thus considered as one of the oldest research societies in Central and Eastern Europe.

Already in 1670, the physician Israel Conradi (1634–1715) had tried to organize a scientific society in the city, without success. Several others tried after him, until Daniel Gralath (1708–1767) finally succeeded. His father-in-law was Jacob Theodor Klein (1685–1759), a city secretary and also a very distinguished scientist, nicknamed Gedanensium Plinius.

At the end of 1742, Gralath had gathered a group of learned men for his purpose, an Experimental Physics Society (Societas Physicae Experimentalis), one of the oldest research societies of its type. The first organizing meeting took place on 7 November 1742, the first scientific meeting was called on 2 January 1743. The aim of the Society was to practice and popularize science, among others through weekly public demonstrations of the most interesting experiments in physics. Often the effects of electricity were studied, with the help of the Leyden jar. Since 1746 these took place in the Great Hall of the Green Gate building. Gralath also became Ratsherr (councilman) and, in 1763, Bürgermeister (mayor) of Danzig.

Known members were Nathanael Matthaeus von Wolf, Michael Christoph Hanow, Gottfried Lengnich, Johann Jacob Mascov, who wrote the Geschichte der Teutschen, also Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit and the prince-bishop Adam Stanisław Grabowski.

The sessions of the Society were also attended by many famous persons of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth like Great Lithuanian Hetman Michał Kazimierz "Rybeńko" Radziwiłł, August Fryderyk Moszyński, Joachim Chreptowicz.

In 1840 Alexander von Humboldt accompanied Prussian King Frederick William IV on the way to Königsberg, and Humboldt received an honorary membership in the Society. Later, the society offered Humboldt stipends. The collections of the Society were displayed in the West-Prussian Provincial Museum located at the Green Gate.

In 1845 the society was located in a Renaissance-era building at the Mottlau (Motława), an arm of the Vistula River.

After 200 years of existence, the society ceased to exist in 1936. The building and many priceless valuables[1] were destroyed during the Soviet offensive in 1945, two years after the 200th anniversary.

The building at the Motława river was rebuilt after the war. It houses an Archaeological Museum [2] today.

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Coordinates: 54°20′56″N 18°39′25″E / 54.349°N 18.657°E / 54.349; 18.657