MIT Museum Opens New Exhibition: Imagining New Technology: Building MIT In Cambridge

February 10, 2016

MIT Museum to open new exhibition celebrating MIT's Centenary:Imagining New Technology: Building MIT In Cambridge

March 1 - September 6, 2016

Cambridge, MA, February 10, 2016—When MIT President Rafael Reif and Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons place small replicas of MIT's Dome and Cambridge's City Hall into a collaboratively built 3D model at the new exhibition at the MIT Museum, they will be launching a project that the combined MIT/Cambridge community will help to create over the life of the exhibit—a crowd-sourced 3D printed model of the MIT campus and surrounding community.

The anniversary celebration will host a range of activities including this unique exhibition created by the exhibition team at the MIT Museum. Rarely seen architectural drawings, photographs, interviews and artifacts will show the dramatic impact the design of the Institute has had on the physical, economic, and social development of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The 20th century saw the Cambridge campus develop into a new kind of educational institution, which through its architecture and its relationship with the local community, was able to promote the cross-fertilization of ideas and concepts. Today, multidisciplinary work continues—from bio-engineering to ocean science, to inventions from the Media Lab; new fields have emerged because of the physical and collaborative spaces that students, professors and community members inhabit.

The Imagining New Technology: Building MIT in Cambridge exhibition tells the story of MIT's historic move from Boston to Cambridge and is a wonderful way to celebrate the 100th anniversary,” said John Durant, The Mark R. Epstein (Class of 1963) Director of the MIT Museum. “The exhibition brings together a unique collection of artifacts—several of them never seen in public before—and shows the incredible impact MIT has had on the city of Cambridge throughout the past century,” said Durant.

This intimate exhibition invites visitors to touch, to look and to think about how communities are created. Through 3D model building, books of photographs, a massive reproduction of the 1916 map of Cambridge, the examination of plans, and getting up-close and personal with artifacts, visitors may immerse themselves in historic conversations, images, and antique items, all of which hope to close the “history gap” between important moments in time.

3D plans for the community built model exhibited outside the Kurtz Gallery of Photography were created by the Open Street Map project and may be downloaded free of charge at:

Exhibition Highlights:

  • William W. Bosworth's (1868 - 1966) large, color-wash presentation drawing of the main MIT building. Bosworth was an MIT trained architect, whose projects included many New York area homes and estates, as well as the management of the restoration of the Palace of Versaille, and the Chateau de Fontainebleau in France. He is credited with designing many of the early MIT buildings for the new campus.
  • MIT architecture professor Désiré Despradelle's (1862-1912) original drawings that outlined the concept for the new MIT campus. Despradelle, originally from France, arrived to his teaching post at MIT in 1893. Generally credited for introducing the collaborative approach to teaching and learning about architecture in the U.S., he also was an influential architect in Boston. He contributed to the designs for Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, Harvard's Widener Library, and a number of business and hospital buildings, as well as providing ideas for the new MIT campus.
  • Original blueprint drawings documenting the vision of Charles Davenport for the Charles River Embankment; lent by the Boston Athenaeum.
  • The original, early 20th century correspondence between MIT President Richard Maclaurin, and the main financial patron of the new campus, George Eastman. Includes George Eastman's original note cards recording each gift to MIT and the amount; lent by MIT Institute Archives and the George Eastman Museum.
  • Four original plans for the MIT campus from the firms of William W. Bosworth, and that of Stone & Webster, the engineering firm founded by Charles Stone and Edwin Webster who met while they were students at MIT (1884-1888).
  • Ephemera and other souvenirs from MIT's extravagant “Dedication and Reunion Event” held in June, 1916. Receptions, exhibits, a pageant and a “telephone banquet” all celebrated the new campus which lay the foundation for the modern-day MIT.
  • Ephemera and artifacts documenting the history of business and industry, in and around MIT. Included are artifacts from the New England Confectionary Company, makers of Necco wafers; Polaroid, creators of polarizing materials and the Polaroid cameras; Biogen, makers of Avonex and other important drugs; and Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, where the Apollo Guidance Computer originated.
  • Nine short video interviews (recorded in 2015) featuring local residents and political leaders with deep ties to MIT's surrounding neighborhoods.

Exhibition Team

MIT Museum
Ann Neumann, MIT Museum, Director of Galleries and Exhibitions
Deborah Douglas, MIT Museum, Director of Collections, and Curator of Science and Technology
Chris Danemeyer, Proun Design, Exhibition and Graphic Design
Cody Oliver, MIT Museum, Media Design and Technology Developer
Neil Mayer, N Mayer Design, Exhibit Design
Joan Whitlow, MIT Museum, Registrar and Collections Manager
Susan Timberlake, MIT Museum Exhibit Developer
Ariel Weinberg, MIT Museum Curatorial Associate
Rachel Robinson, MIT Museum Curatorial Associate
Emma Westling, Installation Manager
Bluebird Graphic Solutions, Fabrication

About the MIT Museum
The MIT Museum's mission is to engage the wider community with MIT's science, technology and other areas of scholarship in ways that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. The Museum features ongoing and changing exhibitions, currently having an emphasis on robotics, imaging and holography, MIT history, and the current work of MIT students and faculty. The MIT Museum hosts many public programs and events, has an engaging science-themed store, and is available for function rentals.

About the Arts at MIT
The arts at MIT connect creative minds across disciplines and encourage a lifetime of exploration and self-discovery. They are rooted in experimentation, risk-taking and imaginative problem-solving. The arts strengthen MIT's commitment to the aesthetic, human, and social dimensions of research and innovation. Artistic knowledge and creation exemplify our motto—mens et manus, mind and hand. The arts are essential to MIT's mission to build a better society and meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Visitor Information

  • Open Daily 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. | Closed major holidays
  • Adults: $10.00; youth under 18, students, seniors: $5:00;
  • Free admission for MIT card-holders, alumni
  • Free in July & August only, for Cambridge Public Library card holders
  • Located in the Central Square Cultural District

Media Contact: 
Josephine Patterson | 617-253-4422