Autumn rituals include leaf peeping, apple picking, and pie making. And for 20 years, many members of the MIT community have made time for the MIT Great Glass Pumpkin Patch, held annually on the Kresge Lawn.
When Covid-19 forced classes and other activities to stop in March, the staff and students in the W. David Kingery Ceramics and Glass Lab had already made 450 pumpkins out of the planned 1,500 that would be the main fundraiser for lab operations.
Over the past few months, Peter Houk, the Glass Lab’s artistic director, and Professor Michael Cima, the faculty director, discussed how to use this time to plan to reopen and to find ways to continue to support the program. While glassblowing isn’t an activity that can be pursued remotely, it is safe to hold a virtual pumpkin patch, so lab staff followed strict safety protocols and came to campus, where they displayed and photographed the pumpkins and then wrapped them individually for shipping.
“It’s important to me to be able to try to help create some sense of continuity during this time of great dislocation,” says Houk. “Every year, I get dozens of excited emails from past shoppers and volunteers asking when the next pumpkin patch will be. Over 20 years, this event has created a community of sorts, and beyond the financial necessity of doing the event, I felt there was a kind of social necessity.”
Cima is excited about the virtual patch, “We are looking forward to hearing from long-time patch supporters and hoping to hear from a few new ones.”
Fans of the glass pumpkins will be able to view (and purchase) them online at mitglasslab.org, from Oct. 24-26, and can imagine being in Cambridge, Massachusetts, talking with the artists and enjoying a beautiful autumn day.