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.

More about the residency of 2020 Recipient Thomas Heatherwick

More about the residency of 2018 Recipient Audra McDonald

More about the residency of 2016 Recipient David Adjaye

More about the residency of 2014 Recipient Olafur Eliasson

Projected image of an orchestra conductor behind a group of student orchestra musicians.
2010 McDermott Award Recipient Gustavo Dudamael directs the MIT Symphony Orchestra in an open rehearsal.

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. A Selection Committee, chosen by the Council for the Arts and the Associate Provost with responsibility for the arts, then selects the recipient.

Black and white photo of three people standing in front of a tall metal outdoor sculpture
Eugene and Margaret McDermott with Alexander Calder in front of La Grande Voile (The Big Sail), 1965.

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.

More about Margaret McDermott

The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT 2018 Recipient Audra McDonald in conversation with Oskar Eustis. Credit L Barry Hetherington.
The Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT 2018 Recipient Audra McDonald in conversation with Oskar Eustis. Credit L Barry Hetherington.

Past Recipients

The McDermott Award was founded in 1974 and first bestowed on artist and MIT professor György Kepes. Since then, more than 35 artists have received the honor, including Actress Audra McDonald (2018), Architect David Adjaye (2016), Artist Olafur Eliasson (2014), Multimedia Artist Robert Lepage (2012), and Conductor Gustavo Dudamel (2010).

More about Past Recipients