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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Visual Arts Program records

Identifier: AC-0667

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Scope and Contents

The contents of the collection include extensive lecture videos; video from a Monday night lecture series; student applications, portfolios, theses, and project documentation in mixed materials, paper and video format; binders with semester and course information including, subject description, syllabi, assignments, course and exhibition posters, and news articles related to student and faculty; some, but likely not all, artist supplied videos that were used in the 20th anniversary celebration; materials collected on a class trip abroad to Sao Paulo including city maps, museum guides, translation books, and exhibition brochures.


  • Creation: 1989 - 2010


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Historical note

The MIT Visual Arts Program was established in 1989 in the Department of Architecture by Professor Ed Levine. In December of 2009, it merged with the Center for Advanced Visual Studies to form the current MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT). The Visual Arts Program facilities were located on the first and third floors of building N51 at 265 Massachusetts Avenue. In the summer of 2010, after the official shift to ACT, the program moved into the Wiesner Building (E15) and the newly constructed Media Lab Extension Building (E14). The program offered an undergraduate Bachelor of Science in Art and Design (BSAD) program plus a highly selective two-year graduate Masters of Science in Visual Studies (SMVisS) program.

The Visual Arts Program focused on the development of transdisciplinary strategies in artistic practice within the context of the advanced technological community of MIT. It was designed to foster relationships with programs in architecture, urban planning, media arts and sciences, mechanical engineering, and other disciplines. To that end, students accepted to the Visual Arts Program came from a variety of academic disciplines at MIT, and these heterogeneous backgrounds contribute to a body of work unlike that found in more traditional art departments.

Course work encouraged students to consider both the physical and the cultural context of their artworks/projects as central to their interpretation, with a strong emphasis on experimentation and interdisciplinary approaches to studio production in both traditional and new media. Students were given access to a range of facilities and equipment including a woodshop, metal shop, sewing room, casting room, photographic darkroom, Interform Editing Lab with digital video editing and digital imaging stations, sound studio, and graduate computer lab.

The Visual Arts Program faculty was composed of an internationally renowned group of practicing artists. Areas of research include: urban and architectural interventions, anti-monuments and new instruments of collective memory, design of body wear and nomadic devices, dissimulation in autobiography and self-presentation, institutional critique, the fluid boundaries of reality and fiction in documentary, performance and myth, history and memory in photography, the relationship of new digital media to performance, the exploration of site and relative social positions, and issues of ambulation and identity.

Ute Meta Bauer was appointed director of the Visual Arts Program in the summer of 2005. Under her stewardship, the undergraduate and graduate components grew in size, student labs expanded, and the program organized a highly-visible lecture series. The majority of the materials that were retained and are now included in this collection are from her tenure.


11.9 Cubic Feet (11 record carton boxes, 2 manuscript boxes (legal).)

Language of Materials



The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Visual Arts Program records contain documents and records generated by the program in the course of its operations from 1989 - 2009. The physical materials in the collection include DVDs, mini cassette tapes, paper materials like theses and student portfolios, binders holding course information, and some mixed materials of a non-traditional format.


The collection has been arranged into three series: I. Academic Program Files II. Administrative Files III. Unlabeled or minimally labeled casettes

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Custodial History

Materials were originally held in the Archive at the Art, Culture, and Technology program at MIT and were transferred to Distinctive Collections in January 2023.


Needs review, most likely many of the DVDs are duplicates

Related Materials

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Advanced Visual Studies records, AC-0664.

Art, Culture and Technology Program at MIT records, AC-0666.

Guide to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Visual Arts Program records
Lisa Bravata, 2023: Becca Tibbitts
April 29, 2020, June 29, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US