The Arts

  • 60+ music, theater, visual arts, writing, and dance groups
  • 12 museums and galleries on campus
  • 68% incoming first-year students with training in the arts
  • >50% undergraduates enrolled in art courses each year

The arts at MIT are rooted in experimentation, risk taking, and imaginative problem solving. The Institute offers highly regarded degree programs in architectural design; art, culture, and technology; comparative media studies; history, theory, and criticism of architecture and art; music; theater arts; and writing in several of these fields. Undergraduate minors are also offered in several of these fields. Many MIT faculty have received awards in recognition of their work in the arts, including the Pulitzer Prize, Grammy Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, and MacArthur Fellowship. MIT students are also strong contributors to the vibrant arts culture that permeates campus life.

The MIT Museum draws nearly 170,000 visitors each year to programs, exhibitions, and events that explore the foundations and frontiers of science and technology. The Institute’s past achievements are celebrated through the Museum’s extensive and unique collection, while MIT’s current research, innovation, and design provide a catalyst for rotating exhibitions and ongoing programs. Key collection areas include science, technology, architecture, art, MIT history, holography, marine technology, and photography. The museum also produces the annual Cambridge Science Festival, featuring 10 days of programs and activities at 110 locations across Cambridge and greater Boston serving over 125,000 people.

The MIT List Visual Arts Center is the contemporary art museum at the Institute. Its core mission is to exhibit, collect, and commission visual arts for MIT. The List presents six to eight exhibitions annually in conjunction with a broad range of education programs free to both the MIT community and the general public. It also maintains and adds to MIT’s permanent collection of more than 3,500 artworks that includes over 60 public sculptures and hundreds of paintings, prints, photographs, and drawings located throughout MIT’s campus. The List Center commissions new works for the MIT Public Art Collection through the MIT Percent-for-Art Program, and oversees the Student Lending Art Program that allows MIT students to annually borrow original works of art from the collection to hang in their living spaces.

The MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology facilitates and creates opportunities for artists at MIT and beyond to exchange ideas and collaborate with engineers and scientists. The center fosters a culture where the arts, science, and technology thrive as interrelated, mutually informing modes of exploration, knowledge, and discovery.

The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT celebrates innovative talents in all arts disciplines and is one of the most generous cultural honors in the United States. Recent recipients of the award include designer Thomas Heatherwick (2020), singer and actress Audra McDonald (2018), and architect David Adjaye (2016).