The arts are a fundamental component of MIT's core curriculum and community, reflecting and enhancing the Institute's creativity, innovation, and excellence while advancing the self-discovery, problem solving, and collaborative skills needed by leaders meeting the challenges of the 21st century.
Over 50 percent of all MIT undergraduates enroll in arts courses each year—with nearly half of students participating in music and theater classes or performance groups—and many major or minor in arts-related subjects. MIT's arts faculty includes eminent artists such as Pulitzer Prize recipients composer John Harbison and writer Junot Díaz, as well as composer and musician Evan Ziporyn, director Jay Scheib, architect Antón García-Abril, designer Neri Oxman, and visual artist Renée Green.
Each year MIT's performing groups and outside artists present over 300 music, theater, and dance events. Productions range from chamber music to electronic "hyperinstruments," and from Shakespearean plays to science theater. MIT's world music program features Boston's only Balinese gamelan, a Senegalese drumming ensemble, and an acclaimed South Asian performance series. For more information about the arts at MIT, visit http://arts.mit.edu/.
The Department of Architecture's Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) operates as a critical production- and education-based laboratory focusing on artistic research, advanced visual studies, and transdisciplinary collaboration within the context of MIT's technological community. Its weekly lecture series is open to the public. For information on its events and undergraduate and graduate academic programs, visit http://act.mit.edu/.
Extracurricular dance activities at MIT are sponsored by the Folk Dance Club, Tech Squares, Ballroom Dancing Club, Dance Troupe, and various international student groups, providing regular opportunities for dancers at all levels of ability. Access their websites via http://theaterarts.mit.edu/.
MIT's Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program offers courses in fiction, nonfiction prose, poetry, science writing, and digital media, taught by award-winning faculty. The Writers Series, Poetry@MIT series, and the Visiting Artists Program frequently present readings and lectures by renowned writers. For more information, call 617-253-7894 or visit http://writing.mit.edu/. The Literature Section maintains a level of excellence and innovation as it remains responsive to MIT's distinctive intellectual environment. Its Pleasures in Poetry session meets each weekday during IAP, bringing together faculty, staff, students, and others from the community who share a love of poetry. It also sponsors readings by visiting authors that are open to the MIT community as well as the public. Literature, along with the MIT Libraries, sponsors the MIT Literary Society, an undergraduate reading group that focuses on literary discussion outside the classroom. Students may contribute their own writings to a variety of campus publications, as well as compete for annual writing prizes awarded in several categories. For more information, call 617-253-7894 or visit http://lit.mit.edu/.
An international leader in the development of innovative digital media and information technologies, MIT's Media Lab is a uniquely flexible organization where faculty members, research staff, and students from numerous, seemingly unrelated disciplines work together "atelier style," doing the things that conventional wisdom says can't or shouldn't be done. The goal is to develop technologies and concepts that foster creativity—empowering people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all societies, to design and invent new possibilities for themselves and the communities around them.
Researchers in the Media Lab, with backgrounds ranging from computer science to psychology, music to graphic design, and architecture to mechanical engineering, see a future where machines not only augment human capabilities, but also relate to people on more "human" terms—a future where our devices not only respond to commands, but also understand them. Research opportunities for students are available through the Program in Media Arts and Sciences, based in MIT's School of Architecture and Planning, and through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program. For more information, visit http://media.mit.edu/.
The Comparative Media Studies (CMS)/Writing Program is committed to the art of thinking across media forms, theoretical domains, cultural contexts, and historical periods. The program encourages the bridging of theory and practice, as much through course work as through participation in faculty and independent research projects. CMS subjects are designed to teach students to both make and reflect upon media, and in the process to acquire important skills in teamwork, leadership, problem solving, collaboration, brainstorming, communications, and project completion, which will prepare them for a broad range of academic and professional careers. For more information, visit http://cms.mit.edu/.
MIT's music faculty includes internationally acclaimed composers, performers, and musicologists. Students can choose to pursue a full or joint major, a minor, or a HASS concentration in music. They can also take private lessons with financial support from the Emerson scholarship program; music subjects in theory, composition, history, jazz and world music; or participate (for credit or not) in faculty-led performance ensembles. These include the MIT Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Festival Jazz Ensemble, Chamber Music Society, Concert Choir, Chamber Chorus, Balinese Gamelan Galak-Tika, and Rambax MIT (a Senegalese drumming ensemble). In addition to ensemble performances and student recitals, concerts are also presented as part of the MIT Faculty, Affiliated Artists, Guest Artists, and MITHAS. Artists of national and international stature frequently come to perform at MIT and to interact with students in and out of the classroom. For more information call 617-253-3210, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition to the performance opportunities offered by the music program within the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, there are many student-directed ensembles and a capella groups that perform on campus as well. Visit http://arts.mit.edu/academic/music/.
MIT's programs in Theater Arts afford opportunities for serious study and training in acting, directing, playwriting, dramaturgy, stagecraft, and design. Classes are small, and students work directly with renowned faculty and guest artists, or initiate independent student workshop productions. Students may choose a minor or HASS concentration in theater; it is also possible to create an individually tailored theater major. A wide variety of theatrical performances are presented by MIT Dramashop and Dance Theater Ensemble, the co-curricular student-producing group of MIT Theater Arts. These productions, directed by professionals in their fields, often offer interested students opportunities to further develop their work in professional settings. Extracurricular student organizations such as Shakespeare Ensemble, Musical Theatre Guild, Gilbert & Sullivan Players, and the improv group Roadkill Buffet offer additional performance and production experience.
An annual Theater Arts Open House on Registration Day in early September allows students to meet the people who produce theater events and to learn more about opportunities to get involved in various productions. For more information, call 617-253-2877, or visit http://arts.mit.edu/academic/theater-arts/.
From large-scale public art to film and photography, the visual arts are celebrated in innovative ways at MIT. Excellent opportunities exist for members of the MIT community to view and create art in a variety of media (see List Visual Arts Center, MIT Museum, and Student Art Association below). The Program in Art Culture and Technology offers undergraduate classes in public, installation, and media arts, and has a prominent master's program (see ACT above). MIT students can take classes in traditional fine arts at Harvard, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and Wellesley College through cross-registration programs (see http://arts.mit.edu/academic/cross-registration/).
A flourishing Visiting Artists Program complements the curriculum, allowing students to engage with distinguished visiting artists, including visual artists Tomás Saraceno, Vik Muniz, and Trevor Paglen; architect/engineer/artist Santiago Calatrava; sound artist Trimpin; and jazz pianist Jason Moran. For more information, visit http://arts.mit.edu/va/.
The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT (http://arts.mit.edu/mcdermott/) recognizes rising, innovative talents and offers its recipients a $100,000 cash prize and campus residency. Past recipients include composer Tan Dun, video artist Bill Viola, conductor Gustavo Dudamel, and multidisciplinary performance and media artist Robert Lepage.
Just as MIT pushes the frontiers of scientific and intellectual inquiry, the mission of the List Visual Arts Center is to explore contemporary art in all media. Each year, the center presents a challenging exhibition program that looks beyond art's traditional aesthetic functions to examine the cultural, social, political, scientific, or economic contexts that inform the work. Exhibitions are presented in three galleries on the first floor of the I. M. Pei–designed Wiesner Building (Building E15) and the Dean's Gallery in the Sloan School (Building E60). All are free and open to the public. Nationally distributed catalogs, artist talks, gallery tours, and symposia accompany the exhibitions.
The List Center also manages MIT's permanent collection of artworks, including a student loan art program of approximately 500 works that enables students to borrow original pieces of art, such as prints and photographs, for up to a year, and a sizable collection of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and photos sited throughout the MIT campus.
For more information about the List Center's exhibitions and programs, visit http://listart.mit.edu/.
The MIT Museum's broad range of exhibitions and programs for children and adults provides unique public access to what the Institute has always done best: the application of innovative research to the solution of real-world problems. On a yearly basis, nearly 150,000 people visit the museum and its galleries.
The Innovation Gallery features interactive displays from a variety of research labs at MIT and a popular program space that complements exhibitions on the history of MIT, artificial intelligence, holography and spatial imaging, and the kinetic sculptures of Arthur Ganson.
The Kurtz Gallery for Photography was established in May 2013 with generous funding from Ronald A. Kurtz, MIT Class of 1954. It hosts temporary exhibitions drawn in part from the rich legacy of work in photography at MIT by luminaries such as Minor White, Harold Edgerton, and Berenice Abbott, as well as contemporary photographers from outside MIT.
In addition to the main collection at 265 Massachusetts Avenue, the MIT Museum oversees the Hart Nautical Gallery in Building 5 and the Compton Gallery in Building 10. The museum also sponsors the Cambridge Science Festival, now in its seventh year, which attracts over 50,000 visitors each spring. For more information about the museum's exhibitions and programs, visit http://web.mit.edu/museum/.
The Office of the Arts at MIT oversees, coordinates, supports, and facilitates arts activities under the direction of the executive director of arts initiatives. The office's branches include the Council for the Arts, Student Programs, Visiting Artists Program, and Arts Communications. For general information on arts programs and activities at MIT, visit http://arts.mit.edu/ and see the arts calendar at http://arts.mit.edu/events/.
The council is a volunteer group of alumni and friends established in 1972 by MIT president Jerome B. Wiesner to support the visual, literary, and performing arts. The Council for the Arts recognizes distinguished artists from all disciplines with one of the country's most esteemed arts prizes, the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT. In addition, the council, since its inception, has awarded over 2,300 individual grants and administers annual student prizes in the arts, including the Sudler Prize, the Laya and Jerome B. Wiesner Student Art Awards, and the Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts (see http://arts.mit.edu/about/council/awards-prizes/).
Council programs directly benefit MIT students by providing free tickets to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Chamber Music Society, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, and Radius Ensemble, as well as free admission to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, the Photographic Resource Center, the Harvard Art Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and a number of performances and concerts throughout the year.
The Council for the Arts' Grants Program encourages the dreams and talents of the MIT community, providing the opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to apply for funding for arts projects in all disciplines. Grants range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. For more information, visit http://arts.mit.edu/about/council/camit-grants/.
The Center for Art, Science and Technology (MIT CAST), established in 2012, facilitates and creates opportunities for exchange and collaboration for artists with engineers and scientists. A joint initiative of the Office of the Provost, the School of Architecture and Planning, and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, the center is committed to fostering a culture where the arts, science, and technology thrive as interrelated, mutually informing modes of exploration, knowledge, and discovery. As an umbrella organization, CAST’s activities include soliciting and supporting cross-disciplinary curricular initiatives; managing visiting artist residencies; overseeing undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral research; and organizing programs such as performances, exhibitions, installations, and a biennial symposium. To find out more about different CAST-sponsored activities, please visit http://arts.mit.edu/cast/.
Several programs encourage students to engage in the arts. Freshman seminars led by MIT faculty and staff introduce participants to the many academic and performance programs in the arts at MIT and the Boston area. Arts Scholars is an honors program that enables students who are active in the arts to attend exhibitions, plays, and concerts with experts in the respective arts disciplines (see http://arts.mit.edu/participate/arts-scholars/). The Grad Arts Forum encourages interdisciplinary communication among graduate students through a series of presentations and informal discussions of artistic work by grad students (http://arts.mit.edu/participate/grad-arts-forum/). Student Programs also administers the annual mural competition for currently enrolled MIT students.
The Student Art Association offers noncredit classes and facilities for many visual arts activities including animation, ceramics, photography, painting, and drawing. For more information, visit http://saa.mit.edu/.