Image of Richard C. Maclaurin's Death Mask Richard C. Maclaurin's Death Mask
“Sacrificing for Science,” Death Mask of MIT President Richard C. Maclaurin, 1920

Born in Scotland and raised in New Zealand, as president of MIT, Richard Maclaurin oversaw the move from Boston to Cambridge. Maclaurin described the Herculean effort in prosaic terms: his job was to “think Technology, work Technology, dream Technology.” But it was a complicated and exhausting project to shift the campus from Boston to Cambridge. Maclaurin succeeded, and the new Cambridge campus was dedicated in 1916. Construction continued apace in the years that followed. A special $4 million challenge grant was made in 1919 if Maclaurin could raise matching funds. He campaigned tirelessly to raise the required amount, but wore himself out and eventually contracted a fatal case of pneumonia at age 49. The news was a shock to the campus, as everyone expected Maclaurin to serve for many more years. This death mask was created to enable his portrait to be painted, but it also is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by many members of the MIT community throughout the years.

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