A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system having a vacuum vessel positioned about an imaging volume, one or more high temperature superconducting coils positioned within the vacuum vessel, and a cryocooler coupled to the vacuum vessel to operate the superconducting coil at a temperature above 10 K. At least one gradient coil is positioned between an imaging volume and the superconducting coil without any thermal shielding interposed between the gradient coil and the superconducting coil. A method of forming an MRI system includes forming at least one winding of the main field generating coils with high temperature superconducting material, positioning the winding in a vessel for receiving cryogenic fluid, and positioning a gradient coil between the imaging volume and the winding without placing a thermal radiation shield between the gradient coil and the winding.

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