MIT’s Unique Public Art Collection

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a unique Public Art Collection, which places art across the campus to be enjoyed by students and visitors.

The Public Art Collection, which began with the 1961 commission of Dimitri Hadzi’s Elmo-MIT sculpture, is still active today, with works of art by Alexander Calder, Jacque Lipshitz, Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Mark di Suvero, and others. The LIST Visual Arts Center at MIT is the curator for this collection, which has 91 points of interest on the tour. Many of the works in the collection now have audio guide commentaries featuring artists, architects, curators, and scholars.

MIT has a long history of collaborations between architects and artists, including the design of the MIT Chapel, bell tower, and altar screen. In 1968, the “Percent-For-Art” program went into effect, requiring that a portion of capital project budgets be set aside for the purchase and installation of public art. Percent-for-Art works are in the MIT Sloan School of Management, the Green Center for Physics, and the Tang Center. This program now allocates up to $500,000 to commission art for each major renovation or campus construction project. Recent commissions completed in 2018 include Olafur Eliasson’s Northwest Passage and Nick Mauss’ Dispersed Event.

For additional information on MIT’s Public Art Collection, including its Percent-for-Art Program, visit the MIT Web site.

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