German Museum Rejects Walk-through Model of Einstein's Brain After Public Vote

Museum goers voted instead to walk through the brain of a German soccer star.

Albert Einstein in 1947.
Orren Jack Turner, Library of Congress

A German museum will not feature a walk-through model of Albert Einstein’s brain after visitors to its website voted to make the brain of German soccer star Karl-Heinz “Charly” Körbel the centerpiece of its exhibit.

The Senckenberg Museum for Natural Sciences sought public input for a modernization and expansion that will include a giant brain that visitors can walk through.

Along with Einstein and Korbel, visitors to the website could choose primatologist Jane Goodall or nominate their own brains. The public vote ended Wednesday.

The German branch of Friends of Hebrew University had tried to drum up votes for Einstein, the iconic German-Jewish physicist who founded both the university and its fundraising arm.

Einstein’s brain was at the center of bizarre chapter in pathology. After his death on April 18, 1955, the Princeton, New Jersey pathologist attending his body stole the brain in the interest of scientific research. Einstein’s son eventually gave permission for the brain to be sent to Philadelphia, where it was sliced into pieces and preserved.

For decades, the pathologist took the brain in a glass jar with him on travels around the country, and sent pieces of the brain to researchers all over the world, according to Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, where some slices are on display.