On a cool September evening, students and faculty from the Department of Architecture gathered around a 10-foot tall thin brick vault in the courtyard of N51 behind the MIT Museum. The students had worked tirelessly on it during the last weeks of summer. As the construction team removed a piece of plywood formwork from under the structure, in front of their friends and a number of Museum visitors, the vault, in a truly dramatic fashion, collapsed.
Lara K. Davis, a graduate student in architecture had this to say about the collapse, “risk and gain are bound together in innovation … the entire process offered us a profound learning experience in which our design, material research, structural analysis and construction techniques were tested. The opportunity to take on risk and to learn at such a scale would have been impossible without an internal culture supporting authentic innovation. I think that such a culture cannot be present unless members of a research community can push their work to the limits in a shared, public context like we were able to do."
Both the construction project and the public event surrounding its unveiling were developed as a partnership between MIT graduate architecture students, Professor John Ochsendorf, and the MIT Museum, which has been inviting students and professors to showcase their work at the Museum in outreach events throughout the past few years.
Now the MIT Museum is featuring more collaborations that highlight the work of the MIT community. The Second Friday of every month the Museum will be open from 5-8:00 p.m. for students, faculty, staff, and the general public to mix and mingle in the museum galleries, and to enjoy presentations, performances and activities planned by members of the MIT community. Next up is a Second Friday with a range of fun hand-on activities on Oct. 9.
Jon Bijur, MIT Museum Education Coordinator thinks that “now that we can do these outreach evenings in a more sustained fashion, we’ll be better able to present ongoing research at MIT to our local community. It’s exciting — this has been a goal for several years. Sharing resources benefits everyone.”
The Museum will begin the series this fall with faculty-led events — a nanotechnology workshop for adults with Professor Paula Hammond and Professor Angela Belcher on Nov. 13; and a talk, “Debunking Hollywood’s Holograms” by Michael Bove on Dec. 11. Beginning in 2010 the Museum staff plan to incorporate more student-planned programs. “Students have great ideas about what other students want to do: innovative activities that promote creativity and stimulate the imagination,” says Robin Meisner, director of programs at the MIT Museum.
To learn more about Second Fridays at the MIT Museum, visit http://web.mit.edu/museum/programs/secondfridays.html and
the MIT Museum Calendar.