Dr Jim Bennett, Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford
Blackboards were wiped after use: they were meant for immediate communication, not for record. Even as they were being used, their messages were continuously revised, erased and renewed. But when Einstein went to Oxford in 1931, he was already an international celebrity. After one of his lectures a blackboard was preserved and has become a kind of relic. It is the most famous object at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford.
To mark the centenary of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity in 2005, the Museum commissioned a series of blackboards from scientists, artists and celebrities. The result was an exhibition about science, art, celebrity and nostalgia as the blackboard has all but vanished from meetings, classes and lectures. Einstein’s blackboard is too fragile to bring to London but six others are displayed here at the Summer Science Exhibition.