MIT Museum Curator Deborah Douglas with the Polaroid Model 95A, one of the earliest of the "Picture-in-a-Minute" cameras and part of the nearly 10,000 Polaroid Company artifacts donated to the MIT Museum by PLR IP Holding, LLC.
Photo: Mark Ostow, courtesy MIT Museum
The MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Museum announced yesterday that PLR IP Holdings, LLC, the current owner of the Polaroid brand, has donated an extensive collection of classic Polaroid products and prototype designs from its 73-year archive to the museum.
The archive of Polaroid history contains many of Polaroid's fascinating 20th century inventions and innovations. Rare Polarized glasses dating from the 1939 World’s Fair, original newsprint sketches by Polaroid founder Edwin H. Land, a historic bellows camera the size of a filing cabinet, examples of Land-designed camera prototypes and SX-70 cameras, early movie projectors, a Polaroid copier, plus examples of machines that took mug shots for driver’s licenses are just a few of the original items that the MIT Museum acquired. The collection contains more than 9,000 artifacts altogether.
Land, the Cambridge scientist and inventor best known as the father of the instant camera, died in 1991. After leaving Harvard as a freshman to develop the polarizer, he formed Land-Wheelwright Laboratories with Harvard Prof. George Wheelwright in Boston in 1932, and then the Polaroid Corporation in 1937. Polaroid got attention with its Vectograph 3-D system, but it was his young daughter’s question in 1944 that would make Polaroid a household name: "Why can’t I see the picture now?" The first Land camera Model 95, a variant of which is seen in the photo above, went on sale in 1948.
Edwin Land, who held more than 500 patents (second only to Thomas Edison), had close associations with MIT throughout his professional career, and of course Polaroid was based in Cambridge, which is home to MIT. The MIT Museum holds a number of corporate R&D collections. In June, the museum plans to display a selection of artifacts from the new acquisition.
(Thanks to the MIT Museum)
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.