MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

MIT Museum

The MIT Museum made significant progress in FY95 in implementing a number of recommendations made by its Advisory Board during a review it undertook in June 1994. The Museum hired permanent staff to fill new positions with responsibility for administration, fundraising, security and visitor services, and oversight of its Architectural Collections, thus ensuring that each of these areas receives the full attention it deserves. The Associate Provost for the Arts provided funds to enable the Museum to upgrade its computing facilities and network capabilities, with the result that staff can work more efficiently and better communicate with the MIT community and museum colleagues and researchers outside of MIT. The number of visitors to the Museum has continued to increase dramatically due to increased advertising and press coverage and the popularity of current exhibitions. Throughout the year, Museum exhibitions and programs were featured on local and national radio and television networks and in newspapers and magazines locally and in at least nine countries. In an effort to better know our visitors and be responsive to their interests, we have instituted a visitor survey that will be useful in marketing and programming. With the Advisory Board we are actively pursuing our long-term goal of realizing a better facility for the Museum through discussions with MIT colleagues and friends of the Museum.


The public continues to have a keen interest in holography, so much so that visitation to the Museum has doubled since the opening of our ongoing exhibition Holography: Artists and Inventors in 1994. The Museum is completing construction of a holography teaching laboratory in the basement of the building, where schoolchildren, teachers, families, adults and MIT students will be able to learn more about the art and science of holography by seeing demonstrations of how a hologram is made and participating in courses on holography.


Our collections of scientific instruments, original works of art, holograms, photographs, tapes and films, biographical information, and memorabilia continued to grow in FY95 thanks to in-kind gifts from 49 donors. Notable among these were diffraction grating holograms from the National Physical Laboratory of the United Kingdom; an Edgerton underwater strobe from the Philadelphia Maritime Museum; 142 etchings by Charles H. Woodbury '86 from the estate of Gertrude Fiske; the oil painting "Earth Sea and Sky" by Woodbury, given by Ruth R. Woodbury; 1940 microwave research equipment and related artifacts from Henry Zimmerman; and city models used for wind tunnel research by the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

A number of MIT clients continued to make extensive use of materials from the collections, including the MIT Alumni Association and the News Office. The Media Lab used items from the Muriel R. Cooper/Visual Language Workshop collection for a retrospective exhibit of Cooper's work. Items from the photograph collection were featured in the keepsake brochure produced by the Department of Mathematics for the Norbert Wiener Centennial Symposium and the book The Jews of Boston published by Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

Collections Management And Information Systems
Work on the Edgerton Project, a collaborative effort between the MIT Museum and the MIT Center for Educational Computing Initiatives (CECI) begun in June 1993 and funded by the Harold E. Edgerton Trust, continued throughout FY95. The project's three primary goals include the creation of an automated collections management system for the Museum, as well as the development of two multimedia applications on the life and work of Harold Edgerton, an educational CD-ROM for distribution to school children and an application designed for museum audiences. One of the project's main goals was met with the completion of the museum multimedia application which premiered during the opening of Seeing the Unseen: Harold E. Edgerton and the Wonders of Strobe Alley, a retrospective exhibition at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House. The MIT Museum continued development of its state-of-the-art, multimedia-capable, networked collections management system, which has been named Swallow after MIT's first woman graduate, Ellen Swallow Richards. More than 7,000 original negatives and 12,000 original slides from Edgerton's research trips have been acquired by the Museum. The majority of the negatives and a selection of slides have been digitized onto Kodak PhotoCD and are being cataloged into Swallow. The Museum has begun planning for retrospective cataloging and digitization projects which will be undertaken during the coming years to make information on other Museum collections available through Swallow. Representatives from the Museum and CECI presented a panel session on this project at the international conference of the Museum Computer Network which took place in Washington, D.C. in August 1994.

The MIT Museum made its presence known on the Internet through the development of its World Wide Web home page. This "virtual museum" site provides cyberspace visitors with on-line information on the Museum's exhibitions, programs and collections. It includes a number of digitized images of materials from the Historical Collections, as well as on-line versions of two of the Museum's most recent architectural exhibitions, Drawings at Work: William Robert Ware and the Origins of American Architectural Education and From Louis Sullivan to SOM: Boston Grads Go to Chicago.

Collections management staff undertook a major re-writing of the Museum's collections management policy in preparation for reaccreditation consideration by the American Association of Museums, and has begun planning for the revision of its collections management procedure manuals and emergency preparedness plans during FY96.

Architectural Collections
This was an important year for the Architectural Collections at the MIT Museum. The position of Curator of Architectural Collections was funded full-time for three years, thus providing for more long-term and consistent professional attention to these significant collections. This position is being supported in part through gifts from Martin E. Zimmerman '59 EE. The exhibition From Louis Sullivan to SOM: Boston Grads Go to Chicago, featuring a number of works from the collections, opened in October 1994. An active roster of programs for adults, students and children accompanied the show. In addition to high visitation at the Museum, the exhibit traveled and is traveling to two Chicago venues.

We received a $25,000 IMS Conservation Grant which provides for the rehousing of all of the architectural drawings and will permit us, using individual survey forms, to build a conservation profile of the entire collection. Significant acquisitions to the collections included a rare ink on linen drawing of the Berkeley Building, Boston; a glazed white terra cotta wonder designed by Désiré Despradelle, Boston architect and MIT Professor of Architecture from 1893-1912; approximately 100 life class figure drawings from the late 1930s-early 1940s, given by the Dean's Office; and the Eduardo Catalano Collection documenting the office practice of this important, internationally recognized architect and MIT professor. Mr. Catalano also provided generous funds to catalog this collection.

Planning is underway for several new exhibitions, including one on the work of Samuel V. Chamberlain '18 AR, to open in October 1995, and another on the Virtual Palladio project.

Hart Nautical Collections
The Haffenreffer-Herreshoff retrospective cataloging and microfilming project continues to be the primary collections management activity within the Hart Nautical Collections. It is expected that the project will be near completion at the end of 1995. Once the project is concluded we intend to develop a proposal to fund a central, image oriented database for the Hart Nautical Collections.

Inquiries for plans and pictorial materials from the Hart continue to grow each year and occupy more than half of the curator's time. Acquisitions to the Hart have been primarily books and a superb scale model of the Liberty ship Zebulon B. Vance, commissioned for the collections by Hugh Parker '43 OE. This model is showcased in the Hart Nautical Galleries exhibition Ships for Victory: American Shipbuilding's "Finest Hour," which opened on Technology Day, June 16, 1995. The Department of Ocean Engineering and John A. Lednicky '44 OE, provided generous funds for this exhibition.


Galleries at the Main Facility
From Louis Sullivan to SOM: Boston Grads Go to Chicago, October 21, 1994-September 3, 1995. Through drawings and artifacts, this exhibition explores the explosive growth of the city of Chicago in the last quarter of the 19th century and the contributions to this building boom by MIT and Boston architects.

Sailing Ship to Satellite: The Transatlantic Connection, March 21-September 3, 1995. Rare photographs and artifacts trace the exciting history of transatlantic communication.

Compton Gallery
Artists Behind the Desk, October 4-November 4, 1994, a juried show of works in a variety of media by MIT employees.

mechanical, November 16, 1994-February 15, 1995, featured ingenious kinetic sculptures by Arthur Ganson, 1994-95 artist-in-residence at MIT.

AIDS: The Challenge to Educate, February 22-March 17, 1995, an exhibition of photographer Loel Poor's critically acclaimed series of black and white images depicting the lives of people with HIV/AIDS.

Q.E.D., June 16-September 1, 1995. MIT's role in the winning of World War II is explored in this exhibition featuring photographs and artifacts from the Radiation Laboratory, the Underwater Sound Lab, the Metallurgical Lab and other MIT labs dedicated to the war effort.

Hart Nautical Galleries
Ships for Victory: American Shipbuilding's "Finest Hour," June 16, 1995-ongoing, focuses on the merchant and naval shipbuilding programs of World War II, the vital and unprecedented contribution of women to these programs, and the major role of MIT personnel and services to the shipbuilding effort.

The MIT Museum was the setting for 56 meetings and functions that drew 3,284 guests in FY95. These events included receptions and dinners hosted by a number of academic departments, Resource Development, other MIT offices, and outside corporate clients, as well as programs the Museum sponsored for the MIT community.


MIT Museum Shop sales increased 37 percent from FY94. Net sales were higher in every quarter of the year and in every facet of the operation. Several popular new product lines, the opening of an eWorld store, and the introduction of the stochastic discount program contributed to this boost in sales.

Phoebe Hackett, Assistant to the Director for Administration, left the staff in September. Mary Leen was hired in October as Associate Director with responsibility for fundraising, financial management and administration. Kimberly Shilland, who had been affiliated with the Museum for several years on a consultant basis, was also hired in October as Curator of Architectural Collections for a three-year period. Ehry Anderson joined the staff in April 1995 as part-time Administrative Assistant, and Jeffrey Fitzgerald and Swarn Singh were hired in the Spring as permanent part-time Museum Attendants.

MIT Museum Staff

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95