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Treasures from the Polaroid Collection

MIT Museum Visit

The MIT Museum, located in Building N51, 265 Mass Ave., Kendall Square, is a gem of a museum. We hadn’t visited it recently, but was reminded of it when we went to a book signing a few weeks ago. Mr. Fierstein, author of A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War, said he said a lot of “Polaroid stuff” was on permanent display there.


We stopped specifically to check out the Polaroid Collection. We were not disappointed! In the display case was a version 1.0 Polaroid Land Camera complete with accessories. Next to it was the direction booklet on “how to take a picture” with this newfangled contraption 🙂


Fun Fact: The original Polaroid Land Camera Model 95 weigh over four pounds, not because it had to, but because any camera weighing over four pounds was classed as a professional camera and thus was not subject to the consumer camera tax!


Also in the collection were mock ups, prototypes, and a production unit of the Polaroid SX-70 OneStep camera which created a panic in Rochester. Polaroid evolved the OneStep technology and developed different models for specific markets (art, medical, scientific, etc.) They even had one for specifically for EMTs.


The Polaroid Collection was awesome, but so was the rest of the museum. Definitely cool was the robotics exhibit with all kinds of interesting “artifacts” from all stages of robotics history. Also on display was the first LISP machine developed specifically for AI research (note the hand wire-wrapped CPU!!!)


Many have seen the freeze-frame photos of a bullet going through an apple and the splash made by a droplet of liquid. On display is the equipment Harold “Doc” Edgerton used to make those iconic images. Along with the original gear was a modern-day version of Doc Edgerton’s “Freeze the splash” setup where one can create their own versions (it’s oddly addicting). The image on the screen was the best we could do after a few tries at it.


On the first floor was an interesting exhibit on vision processing. The museum’s composite photos showcased a cool principle:



We have only highlighted a small portion of the exhibits at the MIT Museum. If you are in the area, you should definitely stop by and check out the entire place!

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