Collier's Cranes


This hack was installed on April 18, 2014 to honor Officer Sean Collier, who lost his life protecting our campus. On the anniversary of his sacrifice, thousands of white paper cranes were suspended beneath the skylight in the Gates Atrium of the Stata Center, forming an unbroken column.

Crane contributions came from MIT students, faculty, alumni, and friends from throughout the greater Boston area, then strung and arranged to form this tribute to Officer Collier, who lost his life protecting our campus in April 2013.

Photo of cranes, looking up at night. Credit: Cranes for Collier


As the anniversary of Officer Collier’s sacrifice approached, a small group of hackers reached out to the MIT community for help. They anonymously set out drop boxes in high-traffic areas on campus, inviting those walking by to stop and fold a white paper crane in tribute to Collier. Word spread, and the response was overwhelming: in only a month, more than five thousand cranes poured in from students, faculty, alumni, and friends from throughout the country.

The cranes were individually strung and glued onto fine threads; each thread was attached to a large hoop, which was then lifted into place underneath the circular skylight in the Gates Atrium. The final installation fills the space of the atrium, a quiet symbol of peace and community.

Photo of cranes, looking up from directly underneath. Credit: Cranes for Collier

We would like to thank the MIT community for their help in making this possible: donations of cranes came from all over, and it was exceedingly moving to see the level of care and effort from everyone who contributed.

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