A Century in Cambridge
This spring, MIT commemorates its historic 1916 move from Boston to Cambridge with a series of academic and social events. MIT2016: Celebrating a Century in Cambridge invites members of our community to reflect on our past and to examine the greater impact of the decision to relocate across the Charles River. We are exploring the visionary design of the Main Group, and how MIT has shaped – and been shaped by – the city it has called home for one hundred years. As chair of the MIT2016 Steering Committee, I had the privilege to work with colleagues and students from across the Institute to envision a series of centennial activities for this spring, which are summarized below.
For an overview, we invite you to visit mit2016.mit.edu, the Century in Cambridge Website, for event information and historical and multimedia content – with fresh video arriving weekly in the form of elucidating vignettes, in addition to a four-part, longer-format documentary series. The series began with A Bold Move, which tells the inside story of MIT’s move from Boston to Cambridge, from the design and construction of an innovative new campus to the exuberant opening celebration in 1916. Next, Function Follows Form looked at the connection between the Main Group’s architecture and MIT’s now well known interdisciplinary approach to research. Two more documentary installments will follow.
Exhibitions: MIT Museum and MIT Libraries
The MIT Museum has explored the impact of the Institute’s design on the physical, economic, and social development of the City of Cambridge through photos and artifacts in the new exhibition, Imagining New Technology: Building MIT in Cambridge. Of particular note is the unique opportunity for visitors to contribute to a crowd-sourced 3D-printed model of the MIT campus and surrounding neighborhoods as part of their visit.
Across campus in the Maihaugen Gallery, The Great Stride: MIT Moves to Cambridge – an MIT Libraries exhibition – focuses on the people who made the new campus a reality and celebrates the Alumni Reunion Dedication events that took place June 12-14, 1916.
Two symposia during the Century in Cambridge celebration spanned topics covering the Institute’s architecture, research, and educational influence.
On March 30 and 31, Designing Places for Inventing the Future: The Campus – Then, Now, Next, brought more than 20 leaders in campus design and innovation to Kresge Auditorium to share ideas and to celebrate the Institute’s role as an innovative campus. The four moderated panels comprising the symposium spanned two half-day sessions on architectural design, economic incubation, and educational experiments.
On the afternoon of April 12, symposium attendees embarked on an immersive adventure across campus during Beyond 2016: MIT’s Frontiers of the Future. MIT faculty explored the frontiers of their work with the audience in a fast-paced series of short, exciting talks that celebrated our intellectual and geographic connectivity. Multimedia transitions between each talk explored the physical campus in provocative and imaginative ways.
As MIT works globally for the betterment of humankind, we remain committed to our neighbors in Cambridge, with whom we joined for a day of service on Tuesday, April 19. Part of the larger Together in Service program, which unites MIT students, staff, faculty, and alumni to strengthen our relationships with the local community, the Day of Service took members of the MIT community into Cambridge to give back through volunteer service opportunities. Also on April 19, the Graduate Student Council held an all-day service event in collaboration with the City of Cambridge. Conducted in hackathon style, teams comprising graduate students, Cambridge high school students, city officials, and community members worked together to find solutions to pressing civic needs.
We opened our doors again this spring to visitors of all ages for Under the Dome: Come Explore MIT, a day-long, campus-wide Open House on April 23, in collaboration with the 10th Annual Cambridge Science Festival. At the 2011 sesquicentennial Open House, at least 20,000 visitors spent the day discovering the innovative research, projects, and activities that take place on campus and beyond – and we looked forward to an even larger crowd this year. Coordinated by DLCs and student groups, the Open House schedule included nearly 350 activities, activities to spark the excitement of discovery in our visitors. The attendance count for this year’s open house was not in at press time, but we hope that you were able to attend and share the day with your family and friends.
To commemorate MIT’s ceremonious move across the Charles in June 1916, we will recreate that historic crossing on May 7 during Moving Day at MIT. The original 1916 river crossing was a spectacle of quirky grandeur, complete with costumes, pageantry, and the Bucentaur, a Venetian-inspired barge that transported the MIT charter from Boston to Cambridge. In the same spirit, the May 7 events will be full of “only at MIT” moments.
The day begins with the recreation of MIT’s river crossing, with the procession from Back Bay led by Grand Marshal Oliver Smoot ’62. The first part of the day includes a community competition (2:00 pm) over land and water, where participants will show their interpretations of how MIT moves. Join us to cheer on some wonderfully imaginative entries! The whole community is invited to be part of the parade across the bridge and to arrive together in Cambridge.
Later in the evening, the MIT community is invited to Mind and Hand: A Pageant!, an unprecedented multimedia experience in Killian Court that will combine technology and the arts to celebrate MIT’s history and future. Spectators will be enthralled by pyrotechnic displays, multimedia soundscapes on the facade of Building 10, student performers, and a joyful blend of art and science by the renowned dance troupe, Pilobolus. The spirits of Mens and Manus will come to life to debate the true essence of MIT during what we expect to be the largest on-campus community gathering since 1916.
We will adjourn from Killian Court to dance parties whose themes trace 100 years of music and culture across four different campus venues. Our community and friends will enjoy performances, refreshments, games, and music from 9:30 to midnight. Moving Day will be great fun for all and we hope to see many of you there with your families and friends.
The Century in Cambridge celebration closes on Saturday, June 4 with Toast to Tech. Please join us again in Killian Court to raise a glass to MIT’s first century in Cambridge – and to the century ahead.
1916 to 2016 and Beyond
In 1916, the opening of the new Cambridge campus created an unparalleled environment for problem-solving across disciplines. In particular, the interconnected buildings of the Main Group have allowed for porous boundaries, which has opened up new frontiers in research and innovation for the last century. In 2016, the centennial celebration is a unique moment to reflect on the culture of the campus and to expand upon MIT’s success in the future. Please join us to celebrate the past century and to embark upon our second century in Cambridge!