Massachusetts August 07, 2019
A Unique Musical Sculpture Is Hiding Underground In This Masscahusestts City
This state is filled with hidden gems and unusual attractions. Almost everywhere you look, there’s something fascinating to see. This unusual music sculpture tucked away in a busy urban train station has a quirky history and an even more bizarre purpose.
Located on Boston’s red line subway route, this enigmatic musical sculpture has a fascinating and somewhat convoluted history. You can find it just inside the Kendall/MIT subway station.
Fittingly known as the Kendall Band, this arrangement of long metal tubes, switches, sheets, and levers is actually an environmentally responsive musical instrument. It was created by Paul Matisse, who is the grandson of legendary artist Henri Matisse.
The instrument has three parts: Pythagoras, Kepler, and Galileo. To play Pythagoras, members of the public are supposed to be able operate levers located on both platforms. These levers work tiny hammers that play notes on the metal tubes.
The Kepler element is a giant aluminum ring suspended between the platforms that plays an F sharp note when a handle on the subway is pulled. Finally, Galileo acts like a giant thunder sheet that reverberates when someone pulls a handle in the station.
If you’re thinking this all sounds pretty ambitious, you’d be correct. The band was designed and proposed in the 1970s but wasn’t installed until 1987.
The first part of the instrument — Pythagoras — stopped working shortly after it was installed. Over the next several decades, the complex sculpture was repaired, dismantled, repaired, and dismantled several times.
In 2010, an avid fan of the band formed the Kendall Band Preservation Society with 20 MIT students. Together, they are constantly working on keeping the band in good shape for future generations of subway riders.
You can get directions to the Kendall/MIT station by clicking
here. For more of the kookiest spots and most interesting hidden places in Massachusetts, check out some of our favorites here.
Address: Kendall/MIT Station, Cambridge, MA, 02142