What Campus Closures Means for our Collections

I joined the List Center as the Permanent Collections Registrar in 2017. In my time at MIT, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to engage with students, faculty, and staff in all departments across campus through our various art lending programs. The List Center offers one of the largest student lending art programs in the country with over 600 artworks available for students to borrow each year completely free of charge. 

In a typical year, students are able to keep a work of art in their place of residence—whether it’s a dorm, graduate student housing, or an off-campus apartment—for the entire academic year. When MIT announced their proactive response to COVID-19 by transitioning staff to working remotely and requiring undergraduates to depart from campus residences, we immediately prepared our building to accept early artwork returns. Since students were rapidly preparing to leave campus, we also worked closely with Housing and Residential Services to secure artworks in the dormitories until we could assemble a small team to safely collect the remaining works. Tracking down 600 pieces of artwork in six days was a daunting task, but we’re pleased to share the collection is accounted for. This experience exemplifies what we can accomplish when we come together as a community.

I am excited to have had the opportunity to share my experience working with the Student Lending Art Program in an interview featured in the May issue of Art in America. Read more about this year’s peculiar return process here

While the SLAP Program had to come to a close earlier than we had expected, we hope this week’s newsletter fills you with the joy of experiencing art from the collection wherever you may be. 

Lisa DeLong 
Permanent Collections Registrar

Collection Highlights | Sol LeWitt and Berenice Abbott

Berenice Abbott, Fifth Avenue Houses, New York, 1936, silver gelatin print

Berenice Abbott, Conservation of Momentum in Spheres of Unequal Mass, circa 1958, silver gelatin print

It’s always hard to choose a favorite artwork, but I love the breadth of photographs in the collection by Berenice Abbott. From her 1930s-era documentation of culture, architecture, life in New York City to her exploratory time at MIT in the late 1950s detailing the principles of physics, her images have the capability to transport you. Abbott spent her youth in Springfield, Ohio, not far from where I grew up, and I’m interested in how the trajectory of her career took her to New York, Paris, Cambridge, and Maine, as well as the profound impact each location had on her work. 

Student Stories | Perspectives On Living With Artwork

Madeleine Daepp on Carmen Herrera’s Ariel, 2008
Madeleine Daepp on Carmen Herrera’s Ariel, 2008

“I’m so used to getting just a few minutes with artwork in a museum. I was surprised to find that I looked for very different characteristics when picking out a piece to spend a whole year with. I thought that pieces with big, bold colors might create a more comfortable, long-term sense of joy. It’s nice to have a personal connection to this artist and this work—I didn’t know anything about Carmen Herrera when I selected the piece. It wasn’t until I stopped by the List Center to pick it up that one of the staff there told me about this amazing Cuban-American artist whose work had been overlooked for years before she finally found acclaim at age 89. I now seek out her art whenever I can. It feels like I’ve made a new friend.”

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Adam Horowitz on Kiki Smith’s Litter (Fireplace Editions), 1999

“The artist, Kiki Smith, is from my neighborhood in New York. She works there and is somebody who I’ve admired for quite a while but definitely could not afford her pieces. It was wonderful when I saw this work hanging in the gallery, but before I saw it at the List, I saw it in a friend’s house last year, so it’s got a little lineage in my personal, friend-family group here at MIT. It was my first choice both because of the artist and content: Kiki Smith makes a lot of work that I think is really stunning but that I wouldn’t really be okay with living with because it’s just super intense, aggressive, forest-spirit work, but this piece was a really happy medium where it had a lot of her person in it, but not so much that I couldn’t interact with it every day.” 

 Read More

Interested in Learning More?

View the entire SLAP Collection 

View our new online web portal for the List Center’s Student Lending Art Program. Explore the collection by viewing a selection of works available for borrowing. Learn more about artworks in the collection through the words and experiences of MIT students who’ve participated in the program.

 Learn More

Life At Home: Lisa Puts on Her Chef Hat 

Like many people, I’m finding comfort in preparing meals from scratch. My husband and I recently purchased a pasta maker, so fresh pasta has become a fun way to unwind on the weekend. It’s kind of therapeutic to see the results come together with just a few ingredients. When possible, I’m also using this time to research and delve into different recipes for meals like empanadas, falafel, or chana masala. Whether I’m cooking a dish for the first time or returning to nostalgic favorites, spending the evening in the kitchen coaxing aromas throughout our apartment helps to normalize our days at home.
 
What will be the first restaurant you visit when we can dine out again? When restaurants begin to reopen, I’m looking forward to visiting some of my favorite places throughout the city. This includes Gustazo, Waypoint, and Tatte, where the atmosphere contributes to the experience as much as the food. I also can’t wait to visit Thinking Cup for their almond croissants!

PUBLIC ART HOURS
Always open and always free. Find
the MIT Public Art Map here, with an
accompanying audio guide.

LOCATION
20 Ames Street E15-109, Cambridge,
MA 02139

EXHIBITIONS
Although we’re currently closed, you
can explore our current exhibitions
here.


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LIST AT HOME
Did you miss our last #MuseumFromHome newsletter? View the full archive here

XCOVID-19In response to COVID-19, the List Visual Arts Center closed March 13, and will remain so until further notice. For more information and updates clickhere.