An exhibit that not only honors scientist Albert Einstein for having one of the great minds of the 20th century but ingeniously presents material and demonstrations to help understand his concepts and appreciate him as a human being is in place at the American Museum of Natural History. This is a monumental exhibit, fascinating for adults and also an eye-opener for youngsters. It is a must-see on New York's museum circuit.

Pages from original documents that express Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and Theory of Special Relativity, on loan from the Einstein archives at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and being displayed in the United States for the first time, are included. So are letters that express aspects of Einstein's personal relationships and his correspondence with students, as well as his correspondence with President Franklin D. Roosevelt concerning the development of nuclear weaponry.

But the greatest enjoyment in seeing the exhibit will probably be found in the interactive displays that demonstrate Einstein's scientific theories. One can grasp a better understanding of principles involved and also have fun doing so. Younger viewers should be especially fascinated by the opportunity to participate.

Included in the display is evidence of Einstein's humanitarianism and actions taken on behalf of peace and democracy. He signed statements and wrote letters upholding civil liberties and civil rights and urging nuclear disarmament. He was offered the presidency of Israel, but he declined, although he was a stalwart supporter of the Jewish State. There is evidence of his strong opposition to McCarthyism and the threat to American freedoms, as with his criticism of the Un-American Activities Committee hearings. Not in the exhibit, but something that might have been included to show his courage, was his endorsement of an appeal to spare the lives of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg at the height of the hysteria that gripped the country.

To the shame of the FBI, it kept elaborate files on Einstein and kept tabs on his association with groups branded as pro-Communist during the McCarthy era. Examples from these pages, with portions censored by blacking out, are on display.

There is also a 1800-pound bronze statue of the scientist made especially for the occasion by sculptor Robert Berks. Various public programs will be taking place in conjunction with the exhibition.

This is a huge installation, organized by the museum, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. After its current run through August 10, 2003, the Einstein exhibition will travel to the Skirball Center in Los Angeles in September, 2004, and then to the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem early in 2005. At the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street. Phone for information: 212-769-5100. For tickets: 212-769-5200.

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