The List Visual Arts Center is the contemporary museum at MIT.

We are a creative laboratory that provides artists with a space to freely experiment and push existing boundaries.

As the contemporary art museum at MIT, the List Center presents a dynamic program of six to nine special exhibitions in its galleries annually, including a program of evolving site-specific work by emerging artists known as List Projects, as well as a broad range of educational programs, events, and scholarly publications. Beyond the full slate of special exhibitions and projects it presents each year, the List Center maintains and adds to MIT’s permanent collection; commissions new works through the MIT Percent-for-Art program, a collection of more than 50 site-specific artworks throughout the campus; and oversees the Student Loan Art Program, which lends approximately 600 works of art annually to MIT undergraduate and graduate students. 

The great universities have long sought to achieve an environment where distinguished art, architecture, and landscaping are not just embellishments or luxuries, but are an essential and natural part of the process of education and growth..
— Former MIT President James Killian

Originally named the Hayden Gallery, MIT established this center for the visual arts in 1950 to provide a dedicated structure upon which to build the institute’s existing relationship to the arts. It was renamed the List Visual Arts Center in 1985 in recognition of a gift from Vera and Albert List, and relocated to its current, expanded location in the Wiesner Building, which was designed by MIT Alumnus I. M. Pei (B.S. Architecture, 1940) and Partners Architects. 

The staff of the List Visual Arts Center performs multiple functions: organizing changing, temporary exhibitions in the three gallery spaces that comprise the Center (Hayden, Reference, and Bakalar galleries); administering a Permanent Collection of artworks located throughout campus buildings and offices, as well as a renowned collection of publicly sited sculptures; administering a collection of several hundred works for the annual Student Loan Art Program; commissioning new works by contemporary artists under MIT’s Percent-for-Art Program; presenting the annual Max Wasserman Forum on Contemporary Art; and organizing and producing exhibition catalogues, brochures, web-based projects, and a variety of public programs targeted at audiences within MIT and beyond.

The List Center Advisory Committee is comprised of supportive, interested individuals including a Nobel Prize winner, well-known curators, artists, and important collectors of art. A student and several members of the Boston and Cambridge communities were recently added. The Committee has newly instituted giving requirements and term limits and under the direction of a new Committee Chair, four Subcommittees have also been reactivated: Nominating, Development, Collections, and Strategic Planning.

Mission Statement

The List Visual Arts Center, MIT’s contemporary art museum, collects, commissions, and presents rigorous, provocative, and artist-centric projects that engage MIT and the global art community.