In 1962, American artist Mark Rothko painted five murals to display in a penthouse dining room in the then-new Holyoke Center on Mt. Auburn Street. Then, as now, Rothko was considered one of the greatest living American painters, and Harvard President Nathan Pusey, upon seeing the works, asserted that they mark “an unprecedented moment for visual art in America.”
The murals remained on view until 1979, when they were moved to storage. During that time, the dining room was used for official University events as well as activities sponsored by other organizations.
“The Rothko murals remain Harvard’s most impressive set of modern paintings for a dedicated space,” said Carol Mancusi-Ungaro, founding director of the Center for the Technical Study of Modern Art at the Harvard Art Museum. “Many people at the University had the privilege of seeing these paintings installed, and we are seeking their memories and impressions of the murals as they appeared in Holyoke Center.”
If you saw the murals installed or have anecdotal information about them and would be willing to participate in an oral history project, please contact Mancusi-Ungaro at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 617.384.9410.