Your MIT ID can get you free or heavily discounted admission to nearby arts venues. The Council for the Arts at MIT gifts these memberships and discounts as a way to greaten students’ exposure to and appreciation for the arts. The following is a list of the places where you can flash your card. In addition, you can use it to check out museum passes from Hayden Library for guests in town.
So, even if you’re excited about classes and all the activities taking place on campus, don’t forget the whole of Boston and Cambridge is right at our doorstep, and is well worth exploring!
Museum of Fine Arts (MFA)
If you only go to one place on this list, go to the MFA! Your MIT ID gets you in for free. The museum houses a fantastic permanent collection of drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures, furniture, and more, dating from ancient Egypt to the present era, from all around the world. You won’t be able to see everything in one day; honestly, you could spend an entire year there.
The MFA also has well-curated temporary exhibitions, so there’s always something new to see, and they also offer film screenings, concerts, and lectures. As a bonus, there are three quaint cafes in the museum, perfect for meeting with friends or catching up on a reading assignment.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Again, your MIT ID gets you in for free. This unique museum, built to emulate a 15th-century Venetian palace, hasn’t changed since opening in 1903, at the dying request of its founder, art collector and philanthropist Isabella Stewart Gardner.
The “old” wing features paintings, sculptures, and tapestries from the Renaissance through early 20th century, while the “new” modern wing houses special exhibits and a cute restaurant. “Gardner After Hours” is a fun time to visit, when the museum stays open late and has events geared towards young adults.
Fun fact: The museum is infamous for a 1990 break-in, where thieves disguised as police officers stole thirteen paintings.
Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
You’ll get in free! You should expect to see some bizarre works at this place, but it’s worth a visit for those who can handle modern art. The museum has a performance center with windows overlooking the harbor — so even if a performance is a bit “out-there,” you can appreciate the view.
Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO)
This one isn’t free, but the fee is more like a token of appreciation. For just $5 you can get tickets to as many BSO performances as you want!
First, you need to buy the $5 BSO College Card, which is valid for the year, and which is available at MIT Copytech in the basement of Building 11 (11-003). Then, pick up your ticket from the box office the week of the performance you want to see. Beware, some performances won’t let you use the College Card, but most do. Also, the card will only get you one ticket — if you want to go with a friend and get seats together you have to go pick up tickets together.
Generally, it’s a good idea to call before venturing to the box office (at 301 Mass. Ave, Boston, a short walk over the bridge), because sometimes they sell out of the tickets reserved for College Card holders.
Photographic Resource Center
This is an independent non-profit organization at Boston University, and — you guessed it — MIT students can get in for free. It showcases a new photography exhibit every few months. The current exhibit is on the identity and photographic portrait. MIT students are also eligible to participate in their annual exhibition.
Harvard Art Museum
The museum is fantastic, but closed until fall 2014 for renovations.
The ensemble puts on an eclectic concert about twice a semester in Harvard Square, and MIT students can get free tickets. On Oct. 5, they will play a mix of pieces for flute, oboe, viola, cello, harp, clarinet, and cello. On Nov. 23, the ensemble will be playing Czech-classical music fusion and jazz-classical fusion.
The Catalyst Collaborative at the Central Square Theater
MIT students get discounted tickets to performances by the collaborative, which aims to present science to the public through the theater. Their next show, Silia, on show in April and May, is about a climatologist, an Inuit activist, and two polar bears struggling to adapt to the rapidly changing environment.
Boston Chamber Music Society (BCMS)
MIT students get free or discounted tickets to BCMS performances. BCMS performs classical masterpieces, either at the Sanders Theater on Sunday nights in Harvard Square, or at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium in December and January.
Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP)
This group performs exclusively new music, but is otherwise fairly mysterious. They will have performances this November, January, and May, but further details on the group and tickets haven’t been released yet.
The MIT Museum
Last but not least, your MIT ID gives you access to MIT’s own museum, which is just up Mass. Ave. The MIT Museum houses interesting exhibitions about MIT’s history and ongoing research, particularly related to artificial intelligence, and has an awesome collection holograms and kinetic sculptures. Its temporary exhibits tend towards the robotic, technological, and photographic. The next exhibit is Stanley Greenberg: Time Machines, which opens on Sept. 13.