Pythagoras, Kepler, Galileo may have finally found their saviors — in MIT students. Recently, students formed a group to restore the three musical sculptures in the Kendall T station, which have been in disrepair since at least 2007.
Though the timeline is still up in air, members of the Kendall Band Preservation Society estimate that repairs will begin within a month.
The Kendall Band was created by local artist Paul Matisse and installed in 1987. It is composed of Pythagoras, a set of long tubular bells; Kepler, a large metal ring; and Galileo, a rumbling sheet of metal. In 2007, The Boston Globe reported that the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority did not have the money to repair the sculptures. They have remained broken or barely functioning.
Seth G. Parker, a principal at Levitan & Associates, a local energy consulting firm got the idea late last year that MIT could help. Parker contacted Clarise E. Snyder, who heads the Concerts Office in Music and Theater Arts, to ask if MIT students were interested in fixing the Kendall Band.
Snyder passed on the message. “I was intrigued by the idea and said that it seemed like a very good fit for MIT music and engineering students,” Snyder said. She first contacted Matisse, who was “delighted at the prospect of having MIT students repair the sculpture,” she said.
The first steps of the project involved gathering details on repairs from Matisse and getting approval from the MBTA. Next, e-mails were sent out soliciting interest from students. Michael J. Tarkanian, a technical instructor from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, was recommended to be the supervisor of the project.
“We have a core group of about 20 students — most of them are DMSE students, since that is my department,” said Tarkanian.
Within that group of 20, Tarkanian selected 7 students who will go into the Kendall T station to remove and reinstall the instruments and their parts. The group includes: Jack L. Jester Weinstein ’12, Rachel M. Martin ’11, Nathan S. Lachenmyer ’10, Quentin Smith ’10, Daniel J. Sauza ’11, Maxwell S. Mann ’12, and Shaymus W. Hudson ’12.
“We had to go through special training by the MBTA to work on the tracks,” said Hudson. “Now we are waiting for an OK from the MBTA for us to get to work.”
“The MBTA has been extremely accommodating during this process and really wants to see the project work,” said Tarkanian.
The project is expected to begin in about a month. The team will first, remove, fix, and reinstall the handles and actuation mechanisms. Then they will start working piece by piece to restore the bells.
The entire project could take several years, Tarkanian said.
“I think we will be able to get the instruments functional over the span of a few months,” he said, “but our longer term goal is to complete refurbish and document each instrument. That will be a much longer project, on the order of years.”