Tag Archives: num:ScienceMuseum=1952-292

Einstein on the beach

Are you off to the beach this August? Lucky you – I’m stuck at work (hey, but life’s always a beach here at the Science Museum). If you’re planning a holiday in the UK, you could tread the sands at Cromer, and follow in the footsteps of Albert Einstein.

A poster promoting rail travel to Cromer, 1923-47 (National Railway Museum / Science & Society)

Einstein’s trip to Norfolk in 1933 wasn’t a holiday. As a famous German Jew, he had been subject to Nazi threats. He was invited to stay in Cromer by the MP and antifascist campaigner Commander Oliver Locker-Lampson.  

Einstein’s visit has (very loosely in some cases!) inspired several works, including Mark Burgess’s radio play Einstein in Cromer, Philip Glass’s opera Einstein on the Beach, and a song of the same name by Counting Crows.

Einstein with Locker-Lampson, 1933 (NMPFT/Syndication International/Science & Society)

More directly inspired by Einstein’s Cromer sojourn was a bust by Jacob Epstein. The famous scientist sat for the famous sculptor in a hut at nearby Roughton Heath. You can see our copy in the Inside the Atom display on the second floor.

Epstein's bust of Einstein (Science Museum).

It has been suggested that Epstein, who was also Jewish, was instrumental in persuading his sitter to speak out publicly against Nazi persecution. At a meeting in London’s Royal Albert Hall, carefully stage-managed by Commander Locker-Lampson and attended by thousands of people, Einstein spoke in faltering English about the responsibility of all citizens to guard Europe against another disastrous war. On 7 October 1933, he set sail from Southampton, leaving Europe behind for a new life in the United States.