This project provides a window into a complex history of new development and change in 20th century art. The project opens the treasures of the CAVS Special Collection to the public eye by documenting digitized works in a database that is uniquely browsable, searchable, and freely accessible. The CAVS Digital Special Collection offers international, creative and scholarly audiences of artists and academics a hands-on approach to understanding 20th century experiments in art, collaboration between artists and scientists, and emerging technologies.

It also provides a key service to the 200+ artists that came through the CAVS over its 42-year existence: the ability to annotate and share information about the experiences behind their works. ACT is reaching out to CAVS Fellows and alumni to generate annotations for works, providing the user with a deeper understanding of the process behind the creation of art.

The CAVS Special Collection has undergone preservation and digitization since 2012. This web-based repository project is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts under the Art Works program. The project is also a collaborative partnership between ACT and the MIT Museum, which also holds objects and documentation of CAVS work.

The digitized items from the collection are available for research upon request (see Policies). However, ACT is currently cataloging materials for inclusion on this interface and will continue to grow the amount of collection items available through this site regularly.

About CAVS

The Center for Advanced Visual Studies was founded in 1967 by Professor Gyorgy Kepes to bring artists from around the world to collaborate with MIT’s community of scientists and engineers, to produce works using new directions in technological approach that would rise to interaction with the broader community at the urban or civic scale.

For a more detailed overview of the Center’s history, please see our CAVS History page.

About ACT

Formed by a merger between the Center for Advanced Visual Studies and the Visual Arts Program in 2009, the MIT Program in Art, Culture & Technology (ACT) is an academic program and hub of critical art practice and discourse within the School of Architecture and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The program’s mission is to promote leadership in critical artistic practice and deployment, developing art as a vital means of experimenting with new registers of knowledge and new modes of valuation and expression; and to continually question what an artistic research and learning environment can be and do. As part of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, ACT inhabits a vibrant ecosystem of programs, centers, and labs that continue to promote this interplay between science, technology, art, and design.


Project director: Associate Professor Gediminas Urbonas, ACT

Project manager: Jeremy Grubman, Archivist, ACT

Financial Administrator: Marion Cunningham, Administrative Officer, ACT

MIT Museum Liaison: Deborah Douglas, Director of Collections and Curator, Science and Technology

Digitization support: Anna Britton

Cataloging support: Chris Donnelly, MIT Libraries

Design: NODE Berlin Oslo

Development: Bengler AS