Monday, October 10, 2011

When did this happen? There's a Jaume Plensa at MIT!

Jaume Plensa, The Alchemist
So I'm riding the Dudley bus from Symphony to Harvard Square the other day (to get from Bluebeard's Castle to Jose Mateo), which I hardly ever do anymore now that I'm a grown-up, when suddenly something catches my eye at 77 Massachusetts Ave.

And I blurt out something like "WhatthehellisthatisthatlikeaJaumePlensasculpture?"

And it turns out it is, it is a Jaume Plensa sculpture!  (And also one of the best new pieces of public art seen in this burg in a decade at least!)  It's called The Alchemist (above), and it has been there since last December in honor of the Institute's 150th birthday, on loan from an anonymous alumnus.

That means, though, that it's only staying put till the end of the year, so you only have a month or two to go and check it out.

But seriously - why can't it be there permanently, all you generous MIT alumni?  It's perfect for the Institute, and it's well-sited at 77 Mass. Ave.  (The view from inside, at left.)  As Hub Review readers know, I'm a big Plensa fan, and have cited him as producing just the kind of public art that Boston should be investing in. And here my alma mater was doing precisely that very thing!  Who knew?

Well, great minds, etc.  Now if only those great minds (greater than mine!) on the Charles could come together on a plan to buy this nifty thing!

Yeah, MIT - this means you!  This isn't rocket science!  Buy the Plensa!!


  1. I first saw it shortly after it was installed-- yes, it is something beautiful and I made a point of standing inside it at the earliest opportunity.

  2. It's now permanent thanks to the alum:

  3. Excellent! From my mouth to alumni ears!!! (Although it turns out this was in the works for a while!)

    From the article in The Tech:

    lchemist, originally on loan for the duration of MIT’s 150th anniversary celebration, can now call the Institute home. The sculpture, which sits between the Student Center and Massachusetts Avenue, represents a thinking man comprised of numbers and math functions.

    The sculpture was commissioned by an anonymous alumnus and was gifted to the Institute “in honor of all the alumni who have helped support MIT over the years.” According to Associate Provost Philip S. Khoury, the alumnus did not plan to make the donation permanent, but after visiting the campus during the 150th anniversary celebration, he “was so moved by the events … that he decided to gift the sculpture.”

    (P.S. - Thanks for letting me know!)