I curated the exhibition Jerome B. Wiesner: Visionary, Statesman, Humanist, which opened at the MIT Media Lab on October 5, 2015. I really enjoyed working with Nicholas Negroponte on the project, and learning more about Wiesner's huge life. Here’s the introductory text, written by Ellen Hoffman, Director of Communications, MIT Media Lab:
Jerry Wiesner was the quintessential Renaissance man. The breadth of his interests and achievements made him an iconic figure, not only for MIT, but also for the world. During his long career he became an expert in microwave theory, communications science, and engineering, figuring prominently in the development of radar while at MIT’s Radiation Laboratory during WWII. Years later, as science advisor to President John F. Kennedy, he played a critical role in de-escalating the arms race and gaining ratification for the partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. As MIT president, he transformed the Institute, recognizing that being the best in science and engineering was not enough–that tomorrow’s leaders also needed to integrate humanism and the arts into their thinking about technology and policy.
As the Media Lab celebrates its 30th anniversary, we pay tribute to this unique individual who represented all that the Media Lab hopes to achieve–and so much more.
Photo: Jerome B. Wiesner, left, with President John F. Kennedy and Detlev Bronk, immediate past president of the National Academy of Sciences and a charter member of the President’s Science Advisory Committee. October 1963. Courtesy of the MIT Museum.