The Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announces that the MIT Museum is presenting an exhibition entitled, “Scopes, Stationwagons and Solder: Unexpected Images from the Rad Lab and RLE Collections.” The exhibition highlights some of the most remarkable images from one of MIT’s artistic and historical treasures: the MIT Radiation Laboratory (Rad Lab) and RLE photographic negative collection.

There has been no exhibition of these photos,” said Deborah Douglas, MIT Museum Curator of Science and Technology, “and very little attention overall given to this documentary genre. The exhibition both showcases this important collection and the critical work it documents and celebrates the end of our four-year preservation project. The show will appeal to people interested in industrial and lab-based photography as well as those in search of engaging black-and-white photos.”

The MIT Museum’s preservation project entailed the cataloging and rehousing of nearly 24,000 images, approximately 19,000 from the Rad Lab and approximately 5,000 from RLE. The images document the technology of radar and electronics and reveal the life of these historic labs from 1940 to 1962.

As we begin preparations for celebrating RLE’s sixtieth anniversary year,” said Jeffrey H. Shapiro, Director of RLE and Julius A. Stratton Professor of Electrical Engineering, “this milestone exhibit provides a fascinating presentation of documentary photography that gives a sense of RLE’s roots. Moreover, it complements the sixtieth anniversary events that will take place in the coming year that will outline the remarkable research directions that today’s RLE is taking into tomorrow.”

Said William Smith, RLE’s Assistant Director for Finance and Sponsor Relations, “We are grateful for the impressive effort of the Museum staff. RLE has worked during the last three years to create a new collection of digital images of RLE current research–all stored, indexed, and managed in databases. We have five thousand new images in this growing, contemporary collection. This current effort continues the RLE documentary tradition that the Museum has so expertly preserved. Together, the archival and new RLE photographic collections form a unique Institute resource recording the rich intellectual and daily life of MIT as realized by the faculty, students and staff of RLE.”

RLE provided crucial support that enabled this project to continue its work after the initial grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities had been exhausted,” said Douglas. An RLE grant supported costs during the period July 2003 to June 2004. The final phase of the project was completed one year later using Museum funds. All the negatives have now been cataloged and rehoused.

The exhibition is being presented at the main gallery of the MIT Museum through 11 June 2006. The MIT Museum is located at 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139.

Related Links:

The MIT Museum 

The MIT Radiation Laboratory: RLE’s Microwave Heritage. (Special issue of RLE Currents celebrating the 50th Anniversary of MIT’s Radiation Laboratory, in PDF format)