The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology

December 27, 2019


“Intersection of Art and Technology”, an exhibition on view at MIT Museum in Cambridge, is a fascinating story of the Polaroid company told through the MIT’s impressive Polaroid Collection and an array of Polaroid photographs. After traveling around the world, this extensive exhibition of more than 300 objects makes a stop at the MIT Museum, approximately one block from where instant film was first invented. It provides a glimpse at rarely seen works, and includes objects from the Museum’s own Polaroid collection that have not been on view at previous venues.

Conceptual Model, ca. late 1950s- Michael Cardinali, photographer. Courtesy MIT Museum, Cambridge, MA

“Mention Polaroid and instantly it stirs up memories,” said John Durant, The Mark R. Epstein (Class of 1963) Director of the MIT Museum. “From former Polaroid employees and their families, to the young artists who have caused a resurgence in Polaroid as a medium, we are excited to provide a venue to collect and share those cross-generational stories.”

The exhibition explores various dimensions of the art-technology relationship, and features over 200 original works by 120 artists, along with the tools, materials and related artifacts that made their artworks possible. Artists include Ansel Adams, Guy Bourdin, Olivia Parker, Harold Edgerton, Walker Evans, Hans Hansen, David Hockney, Dennis Hopper Chuck Close, Robert Mapplethorpe, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, among others.

SX-70 camera, 1972–77- Michael Cardinali, photographer. Courtesy MIT Museum, Cambridge, MA

The exhibition also showcases more than 100 artifacts, including cameras, prototypes, experimental films and other technical materials from the Museum’s own historic Polaroid collection of close to 10,000 objects.

“The MIT Museum is proud to have been a collaborator on this exhibition, the first to deeply examine the impact that artists and photographers had on the development of Polaroid’s technology and vice versa,” said Deborah Douglas, Director of Collections & Curator, Science and Technology of the MIT Museum. “Additionally, we look forward to sharing important objects from our extensive Polaroid collection that were too large or fragile to travel to other venues, but will now be on view as part of the exhibition at the MIT Museum.”

Model 100, 1963–66- Deborah Douglas, photographer. Courtesy MIT Museum, Cambridge, MA

Examples of such large and rarely seen important objects include Edwin Land’s personal 20×24 camera, the 238 lb. behemoth that could take pictures 20×24 inches, and extremely rare test prints that document the invention of instant film. An art display from an invited list of local contemporary artists are digitally displayed and a robust line-up of programs accompanies the exhibition.

The Polaroid Project: At the Intersection of Art and Technology

October 11, 2019 – June 21, 2020
MIT Museum
265 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139


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