International Bureau
of Weights and Measures

photograph of the headquarters of the BIPM

English translation of the official name, Bureau International des Poids et Mesures, from which the acronym, BIPM. The BIPM was created by the Meter Convention signed by seventeen nations in Paris on 20 May 1875, during the last session of the Diplomatic Conference of the Meter. The following year the French government made available to the organization an estate at Sèvres, near Paris, where it is still located.

The International Prototype of the Kilogram, the sole remaining physical prototype of an SI unit, is kept at the Bureau, as well the International Prototype of the Meter. Since 1985 the Bureau has also been responsible for maintaining Atomic Time.

The Bureau is an intergovernmental organization supported by the member nations in order to maintain and improve standards of measurement. For example, a national government might send its national standard of, say, the kilogram, to be checked against the International Prototype kept at the Bureau. In all likelihood, the national standard originated at the Bureau. The BIPM is responsible to the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM).

Chester H. Page and Paul Vigoureux, editors.
The International Bureau of Weights and Measures 1875-1975.
Translation of the BIPM Centennial Volume.
U.S. Dept. of Commerce, National Bureau of Standards Special Publication 420.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, May 1975.

 

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