The LHC inauguration in pictures

The LHC inauguration ceremony was a memorable experience for everyone who attended. On Tuesday 21 October the ceremony hall, SMA18, was filled with over 1500 invited guests, VIPs included Swiss President Pascal Couchepin, French Prime Minister François Fillon and several ministers from CERN’s Member States and around the world. You can watch a video of the highlights of the ceremony at

The Heads of Delegations from all the Member and Observer States pose with the Director-General. "The LHC is a marvel of modern technology, which would not have been possible without the continuous support of our Member States," said the Director-General in his opening speech. "This is an opportunity for me to thank them on behalf of the world’s particle physics community."

The LHC inauguration ceremony officially marked the end of 24 years of conception, development, construction and assembly of the biggest and most sophisticated scientific tool in the world. After the LHC was proposed in 1984, it was 10 years before the Council approved the project. "Its construction has taken more than 14 years and there have been many challenges which have all been overcome," said Lyn Evans in his speech at the ceremony. "We are now looking forward to the start of the experimental programme, where the new secrets of nature will undoubtedly be revealed."

Outside SM18 the Director-General greeted the heads of delegations from all 38 countries that attended, Including Professor Jose Mariano Gago, Portuguese Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, who later gave a very well received speech at the ceremony.

In his speech François Fillon, Prime Minister of France, said "I am here to express the total support of the President of the Republic and of my government. When the decision was taken to construct the LHC, I was Minister for Higher Education and Research. I fought for this project which some regarded as an impossible dream. I believe that this dream can be realized. That was 14 years ago. Today the facility exists and it is spectacular."

Pascal Couchepin, President of the Swiss Confederation described CERN as an exemplar of international collaboration in his speech. He was proud that Switzerland could contribute such a huge global scientific endeavor.

Tortsen Akesson, President of Council, underlined the importance of the LHC for the future generation. "Science and technology need flagships that stand out and catch the eye, excite fantasy and fuel curiosity. The LHC is one such flagship."

The Daruma Doll Ceremony is a Japanese tradition that symbolizes the completion of a project. The doll was originally painted with one eye to mark the start of the LHC project and was presented to former CERN Director-General, Christopher Llewelyn Smith, 13 years ago. To mark the end of the project the Japanese Minister, T. Yamauchi, added the second eye and presented the completed doll to the current CERN Director-General, Robert Aymar. Christopher Llewelyn Smith was there to witness the ceremony along with Pascal Couchepin, President of the Swiss Confederation.

Former Director-General Christopher Llewelyn Smith received the unfinished doll thirteen years earlier.

Carolyn Kuan conducts the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. The main entertainment at the ceremony was Origins, a specially commissioned multimedia show. Created by photographer Frans Lanting, the show charted the history of the Universe from the Big Bang to the present day, including imagery from CERN’s own experiments.

After the ceremony guests were treated to a buffet of molecular gastronomy. Chef Ettore Bocchia collaborated with the physics and chemistry departments of Parma and Ferrara Universities in Italy to create a scientific feast of Italian cuisine, optimised for both taste and health.