A 1h30 to 3h trek in Cambridge, half indoor, half outdoor,  to be able to say you went to MIT! You’ll discover contemporary art, charming robots, stunning architecture, and pretty views of Back Bay and the Charles river.

The map gives you an approximation of your general direction, but the real trek use pathways and hallways that you’ll have to find yourself! (see info and photos below the map)

Highlights: LIST visual center, Stata center, MIT museum, the Dome, the Alchemist, Killian Court, Charles river, Back Bay, Memorial Drive

A to B: Your trek starts at the Kendall/MIT T.stop in Cambridge, and from there, go through the little plaza behing the T.stop, turn left on Deacon street, then right on Carleton Street (beware, it’s not what the map shows). At # 500, go inside and through the building -you’ll see some artwork there on the walls and on your way. You’ll then emerge on another plaza, and MIT List Visual Center will be on your left, and your first stop. It’s a small two rooms gallery with provoking shows of contemporary art. You’re at MIT, after all,  aren’t you supposed to think?!

If you cannot find the way to go there, follow the signs to List Visual Center from the T.stop (as indicated on the map). The center is on Ames Street, and the photo above show you how it looks from the street.

C: Once you’ve seen the exhibitions, and ponder what art means today, cross Ames street and bear a little on the right to access a large plaza. There are many outdoor sculptures there, and you’ll see them as you proceed. All the buildings around you have an 1960’s kind of feeling, concrete and glass, very utilitarian, but a little further in front of you, you’ll see the Stata Center, an good example of Deconstructivist architecture. Designed by Frank Gehry, it seems to be the complete opposite of what you just saw, yet it complements it nicely. Fun, colorful, and informal, it hosts the department of Philosophy, the department of Linguistic, and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, between others. You cannot enter it from this side, but climb the stairs to see it closely, and take unique photos of it with your reflections on the walls.

If you want to enter this center and see some MIT museum historic displays, and some of the best knowns hacks made by students during the years, take another stair in front of you, then turn right when you can, then right again to reach Vassar Street. The entrance is at #32 (again, the map is not accurate, so take it with a grain of salt!)

D: Otherwise, once at the bottom of the stairs, go straight for about 500 yards, and enter the building you’ll see at this point. Take the hallway on the left until you cross another long hallway, and take it on your right. With a bit of luck, you are now be in the main MIT building -where the Dome is, and you’ll end up on the stairs facing Mass Ave (otherwise, you’re lost!). On your way, you’ll have a peek at some laboratories, encounter students that could be part of the next technological revolution, and look at the notices posted for them (parties, seminars, jobs offers, concerts…).

E: If you did not find your way, or went to the Stata Center, stay on Vassar Street, and once on Mass Ave, turn right. You’ll reach the MIT museum after about 600 yards, and it will be on your right. There, you’ll learn everything about robots and computers, but you’ll also see temporary exhibitions related to science, and some art exhibitions related to technology. It’s a small but well worth a visit museum, and you do not need to have an extended knowledge in science to appreciate what’s on display there.

If you went through the main MIT building and exited on Mass Ave, turn right too, and walk a few hundred yards more to reach the museum.


F: Once done with your visit, take Mass. Ave again, and retrace your steps. If you did not explore the main building yet, now is your chance, but have a look at The Alchemist on the other side of the street in front of the stairs, a thinking man made of numbers and math functions. Then climb the impressive staircase, enter the building, take the hallway in front of you, and enjoy the atmosphere! At one point, you ‘ll find a way to go out on your left, and to reach the Killian Court where you’ll be able take pictures of the Dome. It’s where some of the graduation ceremonies take place every year in June.

If you already went inside the building, keep on Mass Ave until the Charles river, turn left and the Killan Court will be on your right.

G: Once you have explored the court, and saw the sculptures there, go to the Charles river promenade, and enjoy pretty views of Back Bay and Beacon Hill. You’ll also see the famous “Salt and Pepper” bridge -nicknamed after the shape of its four towers, linking Cambridge to Boston.

You’ll pass the MIT sailing pavilion, and when you reach the Charles River yacht club (H), it will be time to cross Memorial Drive again to go and take Wadsworth Street.

I : At the end of it, you ‘ll see a World fountain and you’ll find benches. You’ll also be a few hundred yards from your ending point, and the T-stop will be across the street from where you emerged a few hours ago.

If you now want to compare the MIT campus and the Harvard campus, take the T. toward Harvard Square, and follow the Cambridge/Harvard University trek

Good to Know: you’ll find restrooms at MIT (buildings, museum, art center) and places to sit everywhere on your trek. Your best bet for food are near the Kendall/MIT T.stop.

T-stop: Kendall/MIT (start and end)


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