Exhibition Fascinating Viruses: Prof. T.H.Thung, the first professor in Virology

October 25, 2023

The Library's Special Collections have recently acquired the archives of Professor Dr T.H. (Hiang) Thung (1897-1960) and his wife, Fernanda Louise Willekes MacDonald (1893-1980). Our new exhibition Fascinating Viruses, highlights the work of this pioneering scientist.

The archives

The archives of Professor T.H. Thung are an important addition to the academic heritage collection of Wageningen University & Research. Professor Thung's scientific career is inextricably linked to WUR.

In the exhibition, we explore Professor Thung's scientific career and the relevance of his work to contemporary research in virology and plant virology. It features many photographs, laboratory tools, drawings, a wooden model of the tobacco mosaic virus, and several publications. The exhibition was created in collaboration with the WUR chair group Virology.

The exhibition complements the publication in November 2023, of the biography on Professor Thung by Frans Glissenaar. This book offers a comprehensive overview of the life and significance of this versatile scientist.

The first chair in Virology

Of Chinese descent and born in Indonesia, Thung came to the Netherlands in 1916 to study in Wageningen. After studying phytopathology, he conducted research in Indonesia for many years, and eventually grew from a phytopathologist to a plant virologist, before this profession existed as such.

His pioneering research in virology earned him an endowed chair in Virology and Plant Virology at the Agricultural College in Wageningen in 1950. In 1957, he became the first full professor in Plant Virology.

Passion for international cooperation

Professor Thung was also a passionate advocate of international cooperation in science, which allowed him to travel all over the world. He was also a child of both the colonial and post-colonial eras. He worked for many years in his homeland, Indonesia. There, he laid the foundation for the agricultural faculty of the national university, where he also served as a guest professor in 1956. He also championed the emancipation of the Indo-Chinese community in the Netherlands and Indonesia.


Location & opening hours

You can visit the exhibition from 3 November 2023 to 30 April 2024. Special Collections is open Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 1 pm and is closed on national holidays. If you would like to visit the collection in the afternoon or with a group, please send an e-mail to

Address: Special Collections Reading Room, WUR Library, Wageningen University & Research Forum, Building 102, Droevendaalsesteeg 2, 6706KN Wageningen. Please use the main entrance to the Library on the 2nd floor of the building.

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