'Customized' Einstein exhibit focuses on Zionism

The event is a more Jewish and Zionist version of one already shown in New York, Boston, Chicago and LA.

einstein 88 (photo credit: )
einstein 88
(photo credit: )
The "Man of the [20th] Century," immortal physicist Albert Einstein, will be the focus of the Bloomfield Science Museum's first-ever exhibition meant for adults and older teenagers. The educational event, which will be display for a whole year at the Jerusalem children's science museum, is a more Jewish and Zionist version of an exhibition that has already been shown in New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. The exhibition, presented in Hebrew, English and Arabic text with an audio and personally guided tour, is expected to be viewed by some 150,000 visitors. It cost $500,000 for the Hebrew University and the Jerusalem Foundation to bring the exhibit to Israel and upgrade it to suit the local audience, said HU physics Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, an Einstein expert who was its initiator and academic adviser. At a press conference at the Bloomfield Science Museum on Thursday, Gutfreund and HU president Prof. Menachem Magidor said the Einstein exhibition was on show at New York's Museum of Natural History, Boston Science Museum, Skirball Culture Center in LA and Field Museum in Chicago. But these did not stress enough Einstein's Jewishness, Zionistic feeling and connection with the Hebrew University, they said. As a result, the Israeli partners - who established Bloomfield as an institution to promote science education among youngsters - decided to customize it. The collection, which opens to invited guests on Sunday night and to the general public on Monday, covers 700 square meters in the museum's new wing and focuses on Einstein as a person and on his Theory of Relativity. This year is the centennial of the publication of four groundbreaking journal articles by Einstein, then an unknown, 26-year-old patent office clerk in Switzerland. He first attracted worldwide attention on May 19, 1919, when a full solar eclipse occurred based on his predictions and disproved Sir Isaac Newton's 17th-century description of gravity. Danny Mimran, deputy head of the Jerusalem Foundation, and museum director Maya Halevy said that the exhibition began as a dream and had finally come to fruition. "It is greater and more exciting than we had hoped," added Gutfreund, who toured the four US sites and led the effort to upgrade it for Israeli visitors. Manuscripts and photos from HU's Einstein Archives - the sole legal depository of the great scientist's papers and rights to his name - are on display. They include his matriculation grades, information about his personal life and family, his career, views on pacifism, civil rights and relationship with Israel and the university. The second section, while not largely hands-on as are the regular children's exhibits, offers an eye-catching explanation of his leading theories, including a computerized touch screen on what E=mc2 really means. There is also a film, projected on a mirror, of short interviews about Einstein with Israeli scientists, as well as a movie about his sometimes stormy ideological struggles with HU. Halevy noted that while whole families would not be turned away, the exhibition will not keep the attention of children younger than 13 or 14 because of the texts to be read and the complex ideas. A visit will cost NIS 7 extra, beyond the museum's regular entrance fee of NIS 28 for adults and NIS 18 for children. Bloomfield is open Mondays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and has Shabbat hours as well. There will be special free admission to the exhibition between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. on certain Thursdays in November and, during the year, organized Yad Ben-Zvi tours of Jerusalem in the footsteps of Einstein's 1923 visit to Palestine. A one-man show on Einstein's life will also be presented on specific dates at Bloomfield. After it closes, parts of the exhibition will go on the road for showing in various towns around the country.