Image of Cambridge Campus Dedication Cambridge Campus Dedication
Artifacts from MIT’s Cambridge Campus Dedication and Reunion, 1916

Ephemera

1916

“It was a celebration of Technology by the American family...,” wrote Professor Robert Rogers in his description of the extraordinary weeklong celebration of MIT’s new Cambridge campus in June 1916. From 21-gun salutes to an epic pageant, The Masque of Power, which attracted thousands, Rogers noted that this spectacle was “the coming-of-age of Technology, the moment when the Institute consciously took her place among the great world universities.” The dedication, commencement, and reunion event were broadcast to a national audience. Not all the events were serious, as this costume from a day of picnics and parades at Nantasket beach attests. However, apart from the U.S. centennial celebration in Philadelphia and the great World’s Fairs, never before had the nation witnessed such an unabashed celebration of science and technology. It was a first for MIT as well—a tradition now made manifest in the Cambridge Science Festival, the nation’s first such event, which was established by the MIT Museum in 2007.

The collection on display includes an original costume from the Nantasket parade, a tiny plaster fragment from the giant barge decorated as the 15th century Italian vessel Bucentaur for a ceremonial crossing of the Charles, and many tickets, programs, and other ephemera from the celebration.

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