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Historical Society of Princeton launches new Einstein audio feature for museum visitors

Just in time for the celebration of Albert Einstein’s 144th birthday, the Historical Society of Princeton has launched a new in-gallery audio feature. Museum visitors can now listen to stories about Einstein from his Princeton friends and colleagues.

As part of the planned expansion of the museum’s Einstein Salon exhibition, which features an up-close encounter with pieces of Einstein’s furniture and personal effects, curated audio clips now explore many facets of the physicist’s life. Themes include “Einstein at home,” “Einstein and his pipe,” and “Einstein on politics.” Princeton scholars and community figures share their insights in these audio clips, as does Einstein’s longtime secretary, Helen Dukas.

“Through this audio interactive, visitors to the museum are now able to hear about this world-famous physicist directly from the people who knew him,” said Stephanie Schwartz, curator of collections and research for the historical society. “We at the Historical Society of Princeton are so excited to incorporate these recordings into our exhibition as we continue to enhance our interpretation of Albert Einstein as both a Princeton resident and as a person.” 

The interactive audio feature draws upon a collection of eighty oral history interviews author Jamie Sayen conducted in the 1970s. When researching his book, “Einstein in America,” Sayen spoke with more than fifty people who knew Einstein during his time in Princeton. These tapes were donated by the interviewer to the Historical Society of Princeton in 2005. With funding support from the New Jersey Historical Commission in 2020, the historical society hired a professional to create high-quality digital files from these recordings, making them accessible to historical society staff members for programming use. Princeton University’s Program for Community-Engaged Scholarshipnternship provided internship support for the project.

The Historical Society of Princeton will also offer several Einstein-related programs as part of the annual Pi Day Princeton festivities. On March 11 in partnership with the Princeton Public Library, author Dan Gutman will talk about his recent Albert Einstein biography for kids. Participants can join this hybrid event at 1:30 p.m. in the Princeton Public Library’s Community Room, or via Zoom. Between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., kids can drop in for puzzles, games, and crafts. Visitors will also be able to see some games that belonged to Einstein himself. On March 14 at 7 p.m. in the library’s Discovery Center, the Historical Society of Princeton will offer an “open archive,” sharing artifacts from its collection that capture the human side of Princeton’s most famous resident. 

The Historical Society of Princeton’s Updike Farmstead museum, located at 354 Quaker Road, is open Thursday through Saturday, 12:00 to 4:00 pm. Admission is $4.