Robert Berks: Albert Einstein

On a recent Tuesday morning trek into DC, we stumbled upon Albert Einstein near the National Academy of Science’s Headquarters.

Dedicated on April 22nd, 1979, and sculpted by Robert Berks, the memorial commemorates the centennial celebration of the famous scientist’s birth. Though everyone knows who Einstein is, we were more curious about the sculptor who brought him to life. It turns out that Berks is well-known for his likenesses of US presidents, Nobel Laureates, and celebrities. His trademark rough-hewn texture humanizes his subjects, something we found to be true for his sculpture of Einstein.


Robert Berks. Albert Einstein, 1979, Bronze. National Academy of Sciences Building, 2101 Constitution, N.W., Washington, DC.

We took a closer look at Mr. Einstein. The bronze statue, weighing 4 tons and measuring 12 feet tall, is surprisingly approachable. Though we didn’t end up sitting in the lap of the genius, his grandfatherly, endearing look excited more than a few remarks on his elderly cuteness. He appears comfortable and relaxed, simply sitting down and ruminating peacefully. Lost in thought, oblivious to the book of accomplishments in his left hand, Einstein invites the visitor to reflect with him on the steps. Below his feet, a star chart replicates the night sky on the day the memorial was dedicated.
Curiosity drove us to further research back at home. Though we had known that Einstein lived in the US for a significant amount of time, we were surprised to discover just how deep his loyalty to the country lay. It turns out that besides helping America develop the first atomic bomb during World War II, he also hand-wrote a copy of his theory on special relativity and auctioned it off to support the war effort, raising an astounding 6 million dollars. This gives more context to one of his quotes inscribed on the memorial: “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.”
Guest Bloggers: Amanda, Emily, and Mari



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