IAS History

Explore the rich history of the Institute for Advanced Study through firsthand accounts from its Faculty and visiting researchers.

A sign and eight low buildings pass
unnoticed in a field the size of Central
Park: a wall-flower by a college town.
Wandering its halls, one chair offices,
bare egg white walls, nothing stands out until
I reach a lounge where mathematical

If two such great thinkers as Bohr and Einstein, who had such a high regard for each other, could be brought together for a prolonged period, would not something emerge of great value to all of us? This thought and this hope animated the guiding spirits of the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study to invite Niels Bohr to come as a guest of the Institute for the entire spring semester of 1939.

There was no turning back, once word leaked out that the Institute was looking for a home. . . . Veblen found the combination of the Bamberger fortune and the depressed land prices of the 1930s a potent mix. “There is no educational institution in the United States which has not in the beginning made the mistake of acquiring too little rather than too much land,” he wrote to Flexner.