Public Art Collection

MIT’s Public Art Collection, may be enjoyed by MIT students and visitors alike. Outstanding examples of work by Alexander Calder, Pablo Picasso, and other major artists grace the MIT campus for all to view.

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Permanent Collection

The List Visual Arts Center oversees MIT's Permanent collection, which is comprised of more than 1,500 artworks in primarily painting, sculpture, photography, and print media.

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Student Loan Art Program

The Student Loan Art Program is an opportunity for MIT students to borrow original works of art from the collection for their private rooms and communal spaces.

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MIT certificate required.

The List Visual Arts Center oversees MIT's Permanent Collection, which is comprised of more than 1,500 artworks in primarily painting, sculpture, photography, and print media. This collection is designed to enhance the visual environment of the campus, to increase the aesthetic awareness of both the MIT community and the larger public, and to support teaching and research in the visual arts.


The collections distinguish themselves from conventional museum holdings not only by the focus on contemporary art, but also by public visibility. The Institute itself has become the museum, with works of art sited either outdoors or in offices, lobbies, libraries, corridors, and conference rooms, thus becoming integrated into daily life and working situations of those affiliated with MIT and of MIT's many visitor populations — visiting scholars, students, parents, alumni, and friends.

While the first permanently installed works of art at MIT were the decorative murals painted in 1924 and 1930 by Edwin H. Blashfield for the Walker Memorial (Building 50), MIT did not begin actively collecting and exhibiting art until decades later. At that time, former MIT president James Killian, with former Director of Libraries and later, Dean of Humanities and Social Studies, John Burchard, provided the impetus for the establishment of a visual arts program on campus.


Bernar Venet, Two Indeterminate Lines, 1993


Alexander Calder, La Grande Voile
(The Big Sail),

  In 1951, the Permanent Collection was established with a gift from the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey of 26 paintings and drawings. As there was no museum or gallery space for the permanent display of artworks, the decision was made to exhibit the works throughout the campus, in offices, hallways, and other public spaces, setting the precedent for the way the Permanent Collection is sited today.

For general research inquiries regarding the MIT Permanent Collections of modern and contemporary art, or for faculty and staff inquiries regarding the campus art lending program, please contact