From its earliest days, the Institute for Advanced Study recognized the importance of land and location to its ultimate success. The Institute, founded in 1930 by Louis Bamberger and Caroline Bamberger Fuld, gradually acquired most of the land between 1936 and 1945, strengthening the Institute’s endowment and providing a tranquil environment for scholars engaged in theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. Since 1997, the Institute has been the steward of 589 acres of woods, wetlands, and farmland that are historically important and environmentally vital to central New Jersey and beyond.
Oswald Veblen, Professor (1932–50) and Professor Emeritus (1950–60) in the School of Mathematics, helped influence the choice of Princeton as the location for the newly formed Institute for Advanced Study, and was instrumental in acquiring the land.
The Institute was designed to be a true academic village, a residential community with an eye toward offering informal meeting places for visiting Members.
A refuge for ideas and wildlife, the peaceful environment at the Institute provides opportunities for solitary contemplation along with chance encounters with the many species of animals that inhabit the grounds.
Stony Brook flows through the Institute Woods and is bordered by a broad flood plain, which has abundant beds of spring wildflowers such as yellow trout lilies, pink and white spring beauties, and purple violets. Aspen, gray birch, beech, oak, hickory, dogwood, sweet gum, and red maple trees provide habitat for summer breeding and spring and fall migrating bird species. The Woods is also an important stop-over point for migrating songbirds, particularly warblers. A network of trails connects to the adjacent Princeton Battlefield State Park and the Charles H. Rogers Wildlife Refuge. Professor Vladimir Voevodsky’s photographs of the Institute Woods have been the subject of two recent exhibits.
The Institute Woods is open to the public and can be enjoyed year-round by bird watchers, walkers, runners, and cross-country skiers. Visitors to the Institute Woods should park in the public parking area at Battlefield Park. The entrance to this parking area is on Mercer Street, 1/2 mile south of the Mercer Street/Olden Lane intersection. We ask that you do not disturb or remove vegetation, and you are urged to take precautions against Lyme disease, which is common in the mid-Atlantic region. Overnight camping is not permitted, nor are motorized vehicles of any kind. For more information about the woods and its trails, download a map of the Institute Woods.
As a courtesy to all users of the Insitute Woods, each major trail is now marked by color-coded tree markings to aid in navigation around the nearly 600 acres. For more information, you can download a map of the trail markings.
To preserve the tranquil environment necessary for the work of the Institute, all School and administrative buildings are not open to the public. The Institute Dining Hall is open only to Faculty, Members, Staff, Friends of the Institute for Advanced Study, and their guests.