2014 McDermott Award given to Olafur Eliasson

About the Award

The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT was established in 1974 by the Council for the Arts at MIT and Margaret McDermott in honor of her husband, a co-founder of Texas Instruments.

One of the most generous arts honors in the US, the award is bestowed upon individuals whose artistic trajectory and body of work indicate that they will achieve the highest distinction as leaders in their fields.

David Adjaye’s visit to Associate Professor Ana Miijački’s Architecture Design Core Studio II. Photo: Lenny Martinez

The Residency

A distinctive feature of the Award is a campus residency, which includes a celebratory event at which the Award is presented, a public presentation of the artist’s work and significant interactions with students, faculty and staff. The goal of the residency is to provide the recipient unparalleled access to the creative energy and cutting-edge research found in the MIT community and to have the recipient connect with departments, laboratories and research centers throughout the Institute in ways that will be mutually enlightening.

Christine Reif, Margaret McDermott, Olafur Eliasson, and MIT President L. Rafael Reif. Photo by L. Barry Hetherington 2014

The Selection Process

The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT may be given to an artist working in any field or cross-disciplinary activity, including architecture, creative writing, dance, design, filmmaking, media arts, music, theater and visual arts. Award nominees are identified by an Advisory Committee, which is composed of international leaders in arts and culture. An Award Committee, chosen by the Council for the Arts at MIT and comprised of arts leaders at MIT, then selects the recipient.

Eugene McDermott, (1899-1973), cofounder of Texas Instruments and long-time friend and benefactor of MIT.

Eugene McDermott

The Award honors Eugene McDermott (1899-1973), cofounder of Texas Instruments and long-time friend and benefactor of MIT. The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT was created by the Council for the Arts at MIT in 1974 and further endowed by Eugene’s wife, Margaret McDermott.

A geophysicist, Eugene McDermott was a member of the MIT Corporation from 1960 to 1973. The scholarship funds he established at MIT reflect his commitment to education and the public art he donated a conviction, shared with his wife Margaret, that the physical environment of a campus has great influence upon the character of an institution.  They commissioned Eugene’s Stevens Tech classmate Alexander Calder to create The Great Sail, which was dedicated in 1966 on McDermott Court, facing the Green building.  In 1976, the McDermott family and other friends of MIT made a gift of Three Piece Reclining Figure, Draped, by Henry Moore, which graces Killian Court.