Skip to Content
Alumni connection

Re-creating the Oscars

Materials science takes center stage.
MIT metallurgy know-how went into the creation of this year’s Oscars.

When the 89th annual Academy Awards are presented in February, the Oscar statuettes will have a particularly scientific shine, thanks to Richard Polich, SM ’65. ­Polich, who runs the fine-arts foundry Polich ­Tallix in upstate New York, used 3-D technology to replicate the original version of the coveted statuettes atop a modern base.

In 2015, Polich’s team began building this season’s statuettes by creating 3-D-printed forms based on digital scans of an original 1929 statue and a modern-era pedestal base. After using the forms to cast the statuettes in wax, they coated the wax statues in ceramic shells, which they cured and fired at 1,600 °F. In the process, the wax melted away, leaving empty Oscar-shaped forms. Next, the workers cast the statuettes in liquid bronze at more than 1,800 °F, cooled them, and sanded them to a mirrorlike smoothness. Then they electroplated the figures with 24-karat gold and applied black patina to their bases.

Polich, who earned his MIT degree in metallurgy and worked with Professor Merton Flemings ’51, SM ’52, ScD ’54, at the MIT Foundry, was chosen to re-­create the Oscars because he had decades of successful experience with challenging fabrication projects. His work includes such massive sculptures as Jeff Koons’s gleaming stainless-steel Rabbit in 1986 and major public monuments including the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1995.

Polich Tallix artisans are returning to the original practice of casting in bronze after decades in which the Oscar statuettes were made from a pewter-like alloy. According to the academy, the process—from making individual wax models to polishing the bronzes—has restored subtle features of the original handcrafted statuette that sculptor George Stanley designed from sketches by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons, who himself won 11 Oscars. The statuette is still 13.5 inches tall, weighing in at 8.5 pounds.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

conceptual illustration of a heart with an arrow going in on one side and a cursor coming out on the other
conceptual illustration of a heart with an arrow going in on one side and a cursor coming out on the other

Forget dating apps: Here’s how the net’s newest matchmakers help you find love

Fed up with apps, people looking for romance are finding inspiration on Twitter, TikTok—and even email newsletters.

digital twins concept
digital twins concept

How AI could solve supply chain shortages and save Christmas

Just-in-time shipping is dead. Long live supply chains stress-tested with AI digital twins.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.