Abraham Flexner

Abraham Flexner conceived and developed the idea that found expression as the Institute for Advanced Study, serving as its founding Director from 1930 to 1939. A prominent figure in American education reform, Flexner had a profound impact on many areas of American education, especially medical education, where his influence can be seen even today in the training of medical professionals, the culture of the physician, and the relationship between medical research and practice.

In 1930, the Institute was created as an academic retreat for the pursuit of daring research, unfettered by material constraints. From the beginning, political turmoil around the world interfered with this dream. This exhibit traces key moments in this history, focusing on questions of displacement and academic freedom in Europe, the United States, and Latin America from the 1930s to the 1970s. 

“It is indeed an endless cycle of imagination and concentration, of divergence and convergence, of playing and thinking that deter­mines the rhythm of science and scholarship,” writes Robbert Dijkgraaf on the occasion of becoming the Institute’s ninth Director and first Leon Levy Professor. “The Institute is devoted to creating and sup­porting these experiences.”