Approximately 400 original posters, prints and photographs by such famous artists as Nancy Spero, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein are now on display at the List Visual Arts Center.
And when the show is over, MIT students will take the works off the wall and walk out the door with them.
"This is definitely not a traditional museum show," said Steven Moga, a graduate student in urban studies and planning, who came back to the gallery this year to chose another piece after "winning" the lithograph "Stumblers' Paradise" by David Storey last year. "I'll never forget when I came out carrying the work under my arm and seeing all the other students doing the same, all of us with gleeful expressions."
Nearly 1,000 students are expected to participate in the List Visual Arts Center's Student Loan Art Program this year, competing, by lottery, for work by artists the likes of Berenice Abbott, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Miro, Nam June Paik and Cindy Sherman.
The program began in 1966, but more and more students are taking advantage of the opportunity to live with signed artwork for a year, according to John Rexine, registrar of MIT's permanent collection. The number has nearly doubled in recent years, he said, and the collection has grown as well, with about 100 new works added in the last five years.
Until the artworks are snapped up by MIT students, all visitors to the List can view the eclectic collection at the annual salon-style Student Loan Exhibition through Sept. 17.
"I thought it would be cool to pick up Edgerton's bullet through the apple," said Benjamin Switala, a sophomore in electrical engineering and computer science, who walked through the exhibition last week, lottery slip in hand. But Switala said he also liked the idea of having an abstract piece in his room at New House -- "something simple that makes you think a lot."
William Ho, a graduate student in urban studies and planning and the Center for Real Estate Development, had his eye on Sarah Sze's lithograph, "Near Site," remarking on what he called its "chaos and disorder." "I love the intricacy and detail and how it relates to city planning," he said. "There's something that's seemingly simplistic about it."
Students who do not receive art through the lottery will have another opportunity to win one of the pieces for a year. Works that are not claimed by the last distribution day are made available to students on a first-come, first-served basis, said David Freilach, administrative officer for the List Center. Students often start lining up in front of the gallery early in the morning in the hopes of acquiring an unclaimed work.
Each year, new pieces are added to the collection to expand the breadth of offerings. The 17 latest acquisitions, which will be available for loan next year, can be seen on display on the third-floor mezzanine of the Student Center.
Gallery hours are noon to 6 p.m. daily for this exhibition. On Sept. 14 from 5 to 7 p.m., a special reception will be held in the gallery for graduate students.
For more information, call x3-4680 or visit web.mit.edu/lvac/www/collections/slap/slap_genl.html.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 13, 2006 (download PDF).