Visionary Engineer, Harold Edgerton

Screenshot of Doc Edgerton's website

Visionary Engineer, Harold Edgerton showcases MIT’s digital collection of renowned MIT professor, inventor and engineer, Harold “Doc” Edgerton.

The exhibition highlights the completion of the first phase of a multi-year project across the Institute to digitize, catalog and make available online thousands of still and moving images, original archival materials and artifacts that document Doc Edgerton’s global travels, underwater archeology expeditions, experiments, and film work.

For the first time ever, there is be global access to Doc’s amazing notebooks and more than 13,000 still images (most of which have never been seen before). Visitors to the museum can get a taste of what Edgerton’s films will look like in HiDef and they will see a special display of original artifacts, from the mercury tube that Doc identified as his first strobe to an amphora that dates to the 2nd century BC.

The Edgerton Center created a new ‘piddler’ machine for this exhibition. Using the flashing light from a strobe, this water-based contraption never fails to amuse and educate about the core principles of Edgerton’s work with light and photography.

For 60 years, Edgerton combined extraordinary engineering talents and aesthetic sensibility, making “frozen movement” part of our modern visual culture. Although he perfected tools that enable us to “see the unseen,” there is more to Edgerton than the unforgettable images of milk drops and golf swings. Ebullient and energetic beyond imagination, Doc Edgerton shared his love of the natural and human-built worlds with everyone. In the process, Edgerton taught us the vital importance of engaging the public and making research accessible to all.

The exhibition and the Edgerton Digital Collections project have been supported by a generous grant from the Harold and Esther Edgerton Family Foundation.

Please visit the online collections database, showcasing Harold Edgerton's life work.

This exhibition has closed.

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