Albert Einstein's Brain To Go On Display At London Exhibit
March 28, 2012

Albert Einstein’s Brain To Go On Display At London Exhibit

Sections of Albert Einstein's brain will be displayed in Britain on Thursday at an exhibition in London, along with other historical figures.

Two sections of the brain will be going on display at the Wellcome Collection show "Brains: The Mind As Matter."

The slides from Einstein's brain are on loan from the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, where they were shown publicly for the first time in the U.S. in 2011.

When Einstein died at the age of 76 in 1955 his body was cremated and ashes were scattered according to his wishes.

Pathologist Thomas Harvey, who carried out the postmortem, said Einstein's son gave him permission to preserve the brain for research.

Harvey kept the brain and divided it into 240 sections preserved in jars of formaldehyde at his house.

The pathologist gave a box of 46 slices to his colleague William Ehrich, and the samples were eventually donated to the museum in Philadelphia.

Einstein's brain will not be the only one on display, Edward Rulloff's brain will also be on display for the first time in Britain.  He was thought to have killed his wife and child and was sentenced to death in 1871 for killing a shop assistant in New York.  Rulloff's brain is one of the largest ever known.

Lucy Shanahan, the show's co-curator, said the slides of Einstein's brain raised questions about brain collecting, donation and consent and "the desire to establish whether there is something significant or different about the brain of a genius."

Marius Kwint, the guest curator, told The Guardian that brains have been central in modern societies hopes, fears and beliefs.

"The different ways in which we have treated and represented real, physical brains open up a lot of questions about our collective minds," he told the British news agency.

The brains of Einstein and Rulloff will also be accompanied by an ancient Egyptian, computer science pioneer Charles Babbage and a brain slice containing a bullet wound.

Also, William Burke's brain, which was taken after he was hanged in 1929 for murdering several people to sell their bodies for dissection, will be on display.

The exhibit will be running until June 17 at the Wellcome Collection in London.