I write to bring attention to the vandalism of the Louise Nevelson sculpture, "Transparent Horizons" (1975) located outside Building 66 that occurred sometime over last weekend. For those who did not see the vandalism, which involved the placement of a hundred or more adhesive insulation tacks on the surface of the sculpture (with the flyered message "protecting East Campus since 1973"), you may now see the remaining scars on the surface of the sculpture, which will remain until spring when the outdoor temperature rises sufficiently for it to be treated and repainted.
This is not an insignificant procedure and will cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the amount of sanding and surface treatment the sculpture needs for the adhesive to be removed. Until the spring, therefore, visitors to campus, many of whom are acquainted with the outdoor sculpture collection and wish to tour it, will see a damaged piece on view.
This reflects poorly on MIT's commitment to the arts, best articulated by James R. Killian Jr. '26 who wrote that "Šdistinguished art, architecture, and landscaping are not just embellishments or luxuries, but are an essential and natural part of the process of education and growth."
The collection of outdoor sculptures and many of the paintings and other works of art that may be encountered on campus are under the stewardship of the List Arts Center. The staff here is not without a sense of humor, and the occasional benign hacks that have been committed over the years in connection with the Nevelson - a work that is controversial to some (a sentiment spurred, in part, not by a process of questioning but a satiric legacy handed down to generations of students since its installation in 1975) - are part of an MIT tradition we understand and to which the List Center has been subject (see the MIT Museum display).
Be assured, however, that there are an equal number of people who appreciate the work, including I.M. Pei '40, who selected it, and impugning its integrity with this vandalism is a disservice to them and the visual and cultural environment at MIT.
Jennifer L. Riddell
List Visual Arts Center