Einstein’s Popularity Rides Jerusalem Archive To Asia

Items belonging to famed scientist for the first time displayed in Orient

Rare archival documents detailing the life of Albert Einstein are being showcased for the first time in Asia. The exhibit, titled “Albert Einstein: Life in Four Dimensions,” is the product of two years of planning between the Taiwan-based Blue Dragon Art Company and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, to which the famed physicist endowed many of his belongings.

On display are seventy-five of Einstein’s personal items, including his 1921 Nobel Prize, hand-penned manuscripts of his Theory of Relativity as well as correspondences with Sigmund Freud, family members and lovers. The 100-year-old records are being shown at Taipei’s National Chiang Kei-Shek Memorial Hall until April 8, before making their way to China and Japan.

(photos courtesy of: udnFunLife)

Dr. Roni Grosz, curator of the Einstein Archives, told The Media Line that the show “incorporates different aspects of Einstein’s life and work…[and] features more originals than we have ever presented in one exhibition.” Indeed, as Wang Yuling, General Manager of Blue Dragon Art Company, informed The Media Line, “the exhibition displays many important documents [from] each period of Einstein’s life—from his birth certificate to correspondence[s] with friends and politicians [throughout] the world.”

Due to the fragility of the archives they generally remain in safekeeping and can only be accessed by request or viewed on the Einstein Archives website. In this respect, Grosz stressed that “displaying the originals over a certain amount of time or continuously would harm them irreversibly.” For this reason, he and chief conservator Neil McManus were required to hand-deliver forty of the objects, while the rest of items were shipped overseas and then transported locally in a police-escorted armored truck—trailed by a dummy car—in order to deter potential thieves.

Commenting on the significance of bringing the archives to Asia, Grosz noted that “Einstein is tremendously popular, especially in China, where he is not only seen as a leading physicist but also as a thinker of note and a role model.” For her part, Yuling explained to The Media Line that she was motivated “to bring the Einstein exhibition from Israel since [he] is regarded as a genius who inspires many parents [to teach] their kids to emulate his intellectual achievements.”

Moreover, she added, the Asian population “is very much connected to Einstein in terms of his scientific contributions, which come into play in the technology we now use.”

Einstein was in Japan when he received word of his Nobel Prize victory and, nearly a century later, an anonymous bidder in October bought two of the handwritten notes he compiled following the announcement—known collectively as the “Theory of Happiness”—for a whopping $1.56 million.

“A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness,” reads one of the notes, which Einstein inscribed on stationary of the Imperial Hotel Tokyo.

Accordingly, Yuling concluded, “Einstein is far more than a great scientist—he is a humanist and pacifist. This is the message of the exhibition. We want people in Asia to learn more about his different dimensions.”

In fact, it appears that Einstein’s influence has transcended both time and space, his accomplishments as wide-ranging—and still as relevant—as the many people he touched, whether in Taipei, Tokyo or Jerusalem. As intense interest in the exhibit suggests, the broad elements of Einstein’s life, be they professional or personal, will remain universally significant.

(Daniella P. Cohen is a Student Intern in The Media Line’s Press and Policy Student Program)

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