Housed for over two decades in a converted warehouse, MIT’s Museum had outgrown its facilities in space and educational mission. With the construction of a new campus in Kendall Square came the opportunity to create a new multifaceted cultural institution with more than 25,000sf of exhibition space as well as seminar rooms, lecture halls, workshops, and events spaces.

Architecture, Construction & Design Awards 2022
First Award | Exhibition Design (Built)

Project Name: MIT Museum Exhibitions
Project Category: Exhibition Design (Built)
Studio Name: Studio Joseph
Design Team:  Alexandra Adamski, Alice Tallman, Charlotte Kasper
Connie Wu, Daniel Toretsky, Jose Luis Vidalon ,Monica Coghlan
Sharon Li, Shriya Sanil,Shuo Yang,Wendy Joseph,Wonwoo Park, Albane Jerphanion
Area: 20,000SF
Year: Oct 2022
Location: Cambridge MA
Consultants: Pentagram: Graphics
Bluecadet: Interactive Media
Tillotson Design Associates: Lighting
Kubik Maltbie: Media Integration
Object Mounts: Mounts
Photography Credits: Alex Fradkin

MIT Museum Exhibitions | Studio Joseph - Sheet2
©Alex Fradkin

The design imperative is for a science-forward discussion of where science has changed the expansion of human knowledge and how it might help or hurt the future of all life on the planet. Addressing complex issues, the design takes a proactive stance to engagement, allowing everyone, regardless of age, cultural background, ability, or knowledge base, to have a meaningful experience.

MIT Museum Exhibitions | Studio Joseph - Sheet3
©Alex Fradkin

The scope includes four permanent exhibition spaces, each over 4,000sf, and a changing art gallery of 1,500sf located on two floors. Three galleries have specific narratives based on a particular scientific discipline. The fourth displays signature items from the museum’s collections, telling stories of pivotal moments in discovery from MIT’s history of innovation.

The museum asked that the galleries each have their display concept, materiality, and spatial layout explicitly related to the curatorial premise. What links the different spaces is bold visual coherence backed by highly resolved detailing and a consistent graphic overlay.

MIT Museum Exhibitions | Studio Joseph - Sheet4
©Alex Fradkin

AI Gallery

The irony of artificial intelligence is that it inspires new perspectives on human intelligence. The display armature alludes to the internal structure of computers. When you enter, the field of vertical steel posts seems an impenetrable field. Yet, once you move toward the center, the simplicity of the plan with clear circulation paths brings you through an ongoing story of human and AI collaboration. Visitors have the opportunity to collaborate in writing a poem with an AI. Bold neon-colored graphics and bespoke diagrams are both visually engaging and informative.

Collections Gallery

MIT is not a place so much as it is a unique collection of exceptional people. A display with hundreds of inventions along a 90-foot-long wall is peppered with animated diagrams showing the visitor how these marvels work. The casework is rear-illuminated, and the wall itself is made of translucent material.

MIT Museum Exhibitions | Studio Joseph - Sheet5
©Alex Fradkin

MIT Gallery

Whether encompassing environmental issues, technology for the galaxies, or efforts to improve life for those with illness or physical disabilities, MIT has had a role in breakthrough discoveries. Visitors explore a wide array of models and actual artifacts as they move around a series of tessellated tables made of illuminated perforated metal platforms that highlight artifacts at different scales with translucent display cases.

Life Sciences Gallery

Focusing on “Gene Culture,” this gallery explores technological advances in genetic understanding and the ethical and moral questions that arise from manipulating life. The narrative brings together scientists and artists whose work is provocative and profound—prompting us to consider our future. Cork and felt curving walls define different scientific technologies. A series of linear wood tables harken strands of DNA, giving the visitor the feeling of navigation.