MIT Museum opens its doors for a resident ‘sneak peek’
For Cambridge residents who like to be first in line, the new MIT Museum at 314 Main St., Kendall Square, offers a one-day peek of the expanded facility for neighbors only on Oct. 1, showcasing emerging trends at the intersection of science, technology and art. The event runs from noon to 5 p.m. The museum opens to the public Oct. 2.
Kathryn Gunsch, the museum’s first deputy director, described the facility as a “next-level space.”
“There’s art around every corner,” she said. “But it’s also designed to be a space for people to talk about the pressing issues of our time, the innovations and inventions that are shaping the future, and what that means for culture and a civil society.”
“Gene Cultures looks at Crispr and the rise of gene editing, how it started, how it got invented but also what it means for the future,” Gunsch said. One floor above is a similar investigation into the history and continued evolution of artificial intelligence. “It explains AI and how it is used. But it also asks questions about what does that mean for the future of work? What does that mean for the future of democracy when you can create fake media?”
The museum should not only be a catalyst for discussion, but provide information that can inform and elevate it. “The museum’s raising those questions for visitors to have conversations on their own as they come through, but then also running programming and hosting a place called The Exchange on our website where people can weigh in on conversations,” Gunsch said.
Exhibit areas will be interactive. In the AI space, Cantabrigians can help teach a robot how to set a table and cook. “It’s a way for the visitor to interact with the robot, understand how robots learn. But the feedback is also going directly back to a lab to help scientists working on this project understand better how humans interact with their inventions,” Gunsch said.
Residents can take part in exchanges even before they arrive, thanks to a multimedia artwork called “A Counting” by Ekene Ijeoma and the Poetic Justice Group. Their installation at the museum entrance is a “vocal portrait of the region” that uses a software-generated livestream of an evolving, never-ending count from 1 to 100. A different local voice, language and accent is featured for each number. Visitors can add their own voice by calling (857) 663-0688 and count to 100 in any language. Gunsch hopes that the piece, like others in the collection, underscores MIT’s commitment to “artwork that’s inviting you to be part of the museum.”
The day will feature food trucks, refreshments, a DJ and lawn games in the open space. Hands-on, family-friendly activities are on tap indoors and out throughout the afternoon, and it marks the launch of the museum’s free membership program for residents.“Every resident of Cambridge is welcome to sign up. We’d like people to come back early and often,” Gunsch said. “We really just want people to come in and enjoy the new museum, get to know us and, and know that they’re always welcome here.”