Museum Incubator: Brewing Science and Art

by Nicole Morell on December 7, 2016 · 0 comments

in Alumni Life, Arts, Media


Art in motion in the studio.

MIT’s original group of buildings was designed in a connected style to allow disciplines across the Institute to easily collaborate. This design has fostered a cohesive atmosphere for more than a century, and, for the past few years, a small space within Building 10 has been driven by the same collaborative mission—except with an artistic twist. That space is the MIT Museum Studio and Compton Galleries, an incubator that allows students to combine their creative interests with the research and education that goes on at MIT—no set disciplines required.

At the studio, which is the experimentation arm of the MIT Museum, students can work on creative projects using museum facilities, says Seth Riskin SM ’89, director and co-founder of the studio. This means students can tap into the museum’s multisensory learning environment, focusing on expression through communication and interpretation of science and technology, and then design and build installations. “The studio is the combination of what the museum does and the resources it offers. The interest here is on giving students a chance to explore that intersect between research, education, and inspiration,” says Riskin.

Students work in the MIT Museum Studio.

Students work on installations for display at the MIT Museum Studio.

Inside the studio, students can guide their own projects or enroll in classes led by the studio. In Exhibiting Science, a course offered through MIT’s program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), students craft ideas into art, learning effective science communication by creating an exhibition from start to finish and using technology to communicate their ideas. In creating the exhibitions, students touch on everything from design to mechanical engineering. The current studio exhibit on display from the course features glowing orbs. The colorful orbs are more than art—they display data points about MIT by lighting up, changing colors, and moving up and down.  “It’s all about having students speak through technologies,” Riskin says.

In another course, Global Engineering, students devise technologies to solve problems in developing markets—like how to collect palm nuts more efficiently. Once students come up with ideas, they must present them in distinctive ways. Working with the studio, students learn to present their ideas in a way that relies on art, not Power Point—creating an installation of their ideas and learning processes.

If it seems hard to nail down the many things the studio offers—that’s by design. “The studio is an ongoing exhibition of creative process and learning processes by students at MIT,” Riskin says. “It’s a work in progress. It’s an experimental place to learn and see how disciplines interact and work together.”

Interested in learning more about the studio? Alumni are welcome to learn and use the space

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