The NAS Building

The Einstein Memorial


Albert Einstein Memorial Statue © 1978 by Robert Berks.
Photo: Alex Jamison. Cultural Programs of the NAS.

The memorial to Albert Einstein, situated in an elm and holly grove in the southwest corner of the Academy grounds, was unveiled at the Academy's annual meeting, April 22, 1979, in honor of the centennial of the great scientist's birth. Einstein is depicted seated on a three-step bench of Mount Airy (North Carolina) white granite. The bronze figure, weighing approximately 4 tons, is 12 feet in height. Three caissons, totaling 135 tons, sunk in bedrock to a depth of 23 to 25 feet, support the monument.

In its left hand, the figure holds a paper with mathematical equations summarizing three of Einstein's most important scientific contributions: the photoelectric effect, the theory of general relativity, and the equivalence of energy and matter. Three quotations from Einstein are engraved on the bench where the figure is seated:

As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance, and equality of all citizens before the law prevail.

Joy and amazement of the beauty and grandeur of this world of which man can just form a faint notion.

The right to search for truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.

The star map at the statue's base—a 28-foot field of emerald pearl granite from Larvik, Norway—is embedded with more than 2,700 metal studs representing the planets, sun, moon, stars, and other celestial objects accurately positioned by astronomers from the U.S. Naval Observatory as they were on the dedication date.

The sculptor, Robert Berks, known for his portrait busts (John F. Kennedy at Washington's Kennedy Center), based the work on a bust of Einstein he sculpted from life in 1953. Landscape architect James A. Van Sweden designed the monument landscaping. Einstein was elected a foreign associate of the Academy in 1922 and became a member in 1942, two years after he became a naturalized citizen.

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