Shockingly, the only permanent Albert Einstein exhibit in the United States is surrounded by Loden Coats and Fisherman Knit Sweaters. It’s tucked into a rear corner at Landau in Princeton, New Jersey. Open to the public during shop hours, you’ll find photos, articles, artifacts, and lots of fascinating information about the person Time Magazine called “The Man of the Century”!
Why a Museum in a Retail Store?
In 1994, Landau wanted to coordinate a window display with the production of IQ, a romantic comedy about Albert Einstein (starring Walter Matthau) that was being filmed in Princeton.
Since Albert Einstein lived in Princeton from 1933 until his death in 1955, we asked the community to loan us their Einstein Memorabilia. Hundreds of Princetonians brought in their personal momentos, including the 1960 Princeton Postmaster, the plumber who did repairs at the Einstein residence, and the young schoolgirl who got Einstein’s autograph in her autograph book in 1934! Thousands viewed the exhibit through the Fall of 1994.
The exhibit grew and grew, but six months after the filming of the movie, we finally disassembled the display, returning all loaned items.
At the time of the exhibit, requests for permission to build an Einstein statue for all the world to share his memory were rejected by the Princeton governing body!
After a five year hiatus, Gillett Griffin, a personal friend of both Einstein and Einstein’s daughter Margot, visited the shop (Gillett was the person who had loaned us dozens of Einstein artifacts for the exhibit). As Gillett was leaving, he commented, “I wish there was a corner somewhere in Princeton that I could share my Einstein memorabilia!”
And since our Nassau Street shop actually has six corners, we figured we had two corners extra which could be devoted to a museum… and the rest is, as they say, history.
P.S. Finally, in April of 2005, 50 years after his death, a bust of Einstein was erected in Princeton.