Israeli Museum Hopes to Make Einstein's Genius Relatively Accessible

Cabinet approves establishment of Albert Einstein museum in Jerusalem, which will display items from the estate of the man who is considered the greatest scientist of the 20th century.

The cabinet approved the establishment in Jerusalem of an Albert Einstein museum on Sunday, which will display items from the estate of the man who is considered the greatest scientist of the 20th century.

A sum of NIS 1 million from the budget of the Prime Minister's Office's national-heritage promotion program will be allocated to planning the museum, a joint project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Jerusalem Development Authority. The museum will exhibit some of the more than 80,000 documents in the university's Albert Einstein Archives.

"The idea of creating a center that would make the treasures in the archive available to the general public has been around for a long time," Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, a former president of the university and academic director of the archives, said on Sunday.

"We didn't have the means to do it, but happily President Shimon Peres raised the idea, and with all the power of his vision and his commitment to raise the funds, he convinced the cabinet to take on the project and allocate the funds for the planning stage," Gutfreund said.

Representatives from all participating bodies attended the first planning meeting for the new facility, on Sunday. Gutfreund said that while it was still too early to talk about overall budget figures or the precise nature of the museum, he did say that above all, "it is supposed to be a home for all of the documents in our possession - over 80,000 - which shed light not only on Einstein's character, accomplishments and deeds, but also on the history of Europe in the first half of the 20th century, because Einstein expressed and was involved in every topic that was on humanity's agenda, as well as [in areas related to] the history of Zionism, which he was particularly committed to."

Gutfreund went on to say there would be a permanent exhibition "of the most important things in all areas, with explanations which are accessible to the general public." There will be extensive use of computer technology that will allow the public to reach every nook and cranny of the archive.

"In addition to the documents, there will also be films, of course, and perhaps halls for discussions and lectures. The place must be able to attract the general public, school children and of course the many tourists that visit [the city]," Gutfreund said.

He preferred not to refer to the project as a museum - a term he says is at odd with Einstein's wishes, preferring instead to call it a documentation center. "The name hasn't been decided, but it will be up for discussion," Gutfreund added.