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Elaine M. Kung
Alchemist, originally on loan, will now call the Institute home. The sculpture was gifted to the Institute “in honor of all the alumni who have helped support MIT over the years.”
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Alchemist to call MIT home

Alchemist, originally on loan for the duration of MIT’s 150th anniversary celebration, can now call the Institute home. The sculpture, which sits between the Student Center and Massachusetts Avenue, represents a thinking man comprised of numbers and math functions.

The sculpture was commissioned by an anonymous alumnus and was gifted to the Institute “in honor of all the alumni who have helped support MIT over the years.” According to Associate Provost Philip S. Khoury, the alumnus did not plan to make the donation permanent, but after visiting the campus during the 150th anniversary celebration, he “was so moved by the events … that he decided to gift the sculpture.”

The sculpture is now covered under MIT’s art insurance policy, and maintenance costs will be paid using a fund provided by the donor.

Alchemist is the latest addition to MIT’s extensive public art collection. The many works around campus show that “the arts matter at MIT … the arts are really all about the creative process, and that’s what we do in math and science and engineering [as well],” said Khoury.

Jaume Plensa, the renowned Catalan sculptor behind Alchemist, has designed several similar sculptures. His works Nosotros, Nomade, House of Knowledge, and I, You, She or He all utilize the same body structure as Alchemist, but are comprised of different symbols. Plensa’s sculptures can be found all over the world from Paris to the United Kingdom to Japan.

Alchemist, already a familiar sight to students, can now be recognized as a permanent landmark on campus.

—Janelle Mansfield