27 Nov 2018

Harvard Business School is New Home for Digital DNA

Adriana Varella and Nilton Maltz, Digital DNA, 2005, Printed circuit boards on fiberglass and Styrofoam, Anonymous loan.

BOSTON—Digital DNA, the seven-foot-tall outdoor sculpture by artists Adriana Varella and Nilton Maltz, has found a new home on the campus of Harvard Business School. Originally commissioned by the city of Palo Alto in the early 2000’s, it resided in Lytton Plaza in the center of the city until making the cross-country trek last Spring.

Digital DNA is a large egg-shaped form made of recycled circuit boards and fiberglass polystyrene bead foam. Many of the boards are etched with phrases crowd-sourced from people of all walks of life, who shared with Varella their thoughts about technology as the “circuits in their lives." Phrases appear in a variety of languages, and they speak to a wide variety of ways in which technology and humanity intersect. When the city decided to deaccession the work, an anonymous art collector stepped in to purchase it. It is on loan to Harvard for a five-year term.

Over time in Palo Alto the piece fell into disrepair, requiring extensive treatment by Varella to make it ready for its new home outside the Harvard Innovation Lab on Western Avenue in Allston. Situated directly between the Harvard Business School and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the iLab is a hub of innovation open to students and faculty across the University who are interested in entrepreneurship.

“We thought this location would be ideal for a piece of art that inspires people to reflect on how technologies they develop and commercialize impact the lives of others quite deeply, in both positive and negative ways” said Gabriel Handel, Assistant Dean for Administrative and Educational Affairs. “Harvard Business School is honored to be the caretaker of this important piece of art and we look forward to sharing it with the members of our community and residents of Allston and Boston more broadly.”

Digital DNA is the latest addition to the Business School’s public arts program, which features not only a permanent collection, but also an exhibition of sculptures on loan from a number of artists and institutions, all of which are on display throughout campus.


Brian Kenny

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.