A welcome refugee. Einstein and Red Star Line

19/04/2024 – 08/09/2024

At the free exhibition ‘A welcome refugee. Einstein & Red Star Line’, the museum will be exploring the close connection that Einstein had to Antwerp, Belgium and the historic Red Star Line shipping company from 19 April. The exhibition returns to a turbulent period in which luxury passenger Einstein became a welcome refugee who was seeking a temporary sojourn in Antwerp. The exhibition brings this little piece of history to life with some unique objects, photos and stories, adorned with an audio play from ‘Het Geluidshuis’. You can discover the exhibition for free on your own or during a guided tour.

As a famous scientist, Albert Einstein travelled on the Red Star Line shipping company's vessels several times. In 1933, during his return trip from New York on the Belgenland, he received the bad news that the Nazis had plundered his summerhouse. Being a Jewish scientist, he was not particularly well-liked by them. ​ For safety's sake, Einstein decided not to travel on to Germany, resigned from the Prussian Academy for Sciences and renounced his Germany nationality. He was taken in by some friendly scientists and artists in Belgium. This was how the world star turned into a privileged and welcome refugee, as compared to many other Jewish refugees who had a far harder time finding safe accommodation. Several months later, Einstein embarked with the Red Star Line once more to move to America for good, where he swore his oath as an American citizen in 1940. ​

The exhibition displays some unique objects, including the original passenger list with Einstein on the Belgenland, photos by Germaine Van Parys of Einstein at the Rijnkaai in Antwerp, a photo of Einstein with James Ensor, a racist pamphlet ‘Judentum und Wissenschaft’ (‘Jewry and Science’, 1936) by Wilhelm Müller during the Nazi regime that presents Jewish scientists as a threat, a photo of Einstein's swearing of the oath as an American citizen in 1940, etc.

Visitors can discover the story of Einstein's flight between 19 April and 8 September ‘24 at the Depot of the Red Star Line Museum, individually, in a group along with a guide (in English – French – German or Dutch), or on their own. The visitor texts are available in multiple languages (room texts in Dutch, French and English; German-language texts are available in a visitors' guide). Every last Sunday of the month, you can join a group tour individually in English or Dutch. ​ An audio play from Het Geluidshuis brings the stories, objects and visitor texts to life through audio guides that are made freely available in English and Dutch.

On Heritage Day (Sunday 21/04) and on Open Monuments Day (Sunday 08/09), visitors can visit the entire museum for free.

Discover the full programme at:

Website preview
A welcome refugee
In this free exhibition, you will discover Einstein's close relationship with Antwerp, Belgium and Red Star Line.
Red Star Line Museum


For more information you can contact us:

Nadia De Vree

Perscommunicatie Cultuur, Stad Antwerpen





About Red Star Line Museum

The Red Star Line Museum invites you on an eventful journey in the footsteps of the emigrants. Become acquainted with the passengers and accompany them on their trip from their native village to Antwerp. The ocean steamers of the Red Star Line are docked on the quay ready to depart for the New World. Exciting and personal stories accompany you across the ocean. On the other side of the ocean you say goodbye to your fellow passengers.


Montevideostraat 3 2000 Antwerpen Belgium

+ 32 3 298 27 70