New Delhi, India
June 25, 2009
Our Swiss pass had allowed us free access to just about every museum and attraction in Switzerland, so we were a little put out to discover that Einsteinhaus, being privately owned, doesn’t honour the Swiss pass. But we mulishly decided that since we’d taken the trouble to trudge up the stairs (narrow, spiral and steep), we weren’t going to back off. We therefore paid up CHF6 each, glad that we could now spend the next couple of hours or whatever getting our money’s worth.
Our money’s worth, as it turned out, was meagre indeed. Okay, there is a historical significance to 49, Kramgasse: Einstein actually lived here between 1903 and 1905 with his wife and child. He developed the Special Theory of Relativity here, and began work on the General Theory of Relativity—for which he is better known—in the same house. The Albert Einstein Society made 49 Kramgasse a museum in 1979, and undertook renovations in 2005.
I have to admit: I wasn’t particularly impressed. If you want to see a good example of a celebrity’s home turned into a museum, Mozart’s house in Salzburg is top notch. It’s a superb tribute to the man, and has loads of stuff that either belonged to him or was connected to him in some way. Einsteinhaus, in comparison, falls flat.
On the second floor (just opposite the reception for the museum) is a small room that’s been decked out in early 20th century style. This has old furniture, antimacassars on the sofas, hand-painted crockery in the sideboard, and a dozen or so photographs featuring Einstein: as a boy (deceptively angelic), with his colleagues, with his wife, etc. There are pictures of his parents too, but not much else. That done—barely ten minutes of peering at the photos—and we were directed upstairs, where a brief (20 minutes? I didn’t time it) video of Einstein’s life and work can be viewed. This is projected onto a large screen and is available in different languages. The catch is, everybody in the room at the time (it seats at least 30 people) get to hear the same language. We were over halfway through the English version when a couple—obviously not English-speaking—entered, sat down, and began chatting loudly enough to be very distracting.
Overall, I’d say Einsteinhaus is avoidable. It’s interesting and historic, but not very creatively designed. Not, in my opinion, worth CHF6 per person.
From journal Bears, Bears Everywhere