Explore the Archives
Michael Sand Archives

Exhibit Design Since the Sixties

Explore Michael Sand’s museum exhibits and other work. An in-progress labor of love, the collection spans decades of design history, cultural and political history, Boston city government, and more.

The Children of Cardozo...Tell It Like It Is

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In the 1960s, the DC public schools were just a decade from Brown v. Board of Education. By 1968, they'd begun to run up against the experimental ethos of that decade, with the introduction of programs like the Cardozo Program and the Model School Division (MDS).

"Recognizing the need for reform, the Washington, D. C. Public School System sought to initiate change by setting up a Model School Division (MSD)," states a dissertation exploring the MDS experiment. "This act designed to initiate and foster change in the D.C. schools, led to the creation of the Innovation Team as a vehicle for system change...The experiences of the Innovation Team pointed out the need for indigenous mentors or agents, as initiators of change, in an urban public school system. Members of the group, as well as the leader, were employees of the Washington, D.C. school system. The Team had a common bond of classroom experiences, ethnic identity and educational ideology."

Following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Cardozo neighborhood in Washington D.C. experienced several days of riots, violence, and fires. It would take decades for the neighborhood to recover, but in the immediate weeks and months that followed, the Innovation Team went to work.

Working with local teachers, the team invited neighborhood children to share their experiences of this series of events. The work the children produced was turned into a Smithsonian Institution exhibit designed by Michael, then Design Director of the Education Development Center (EDC), a partner in the school program. The exhibit was displayed on the National Mall, then traveled the country. Several publications were produced from the initiative.

"Children witnessed the rioting, and the experience was rather devastating. We just couldn't leave it alone," said Anne W. Pitts, an Innovation teacher at the time. "This was a catharsis, to get it out of the system." (From D.C.'s Riots Through the Eyes of Children)

We believe there are additional related projects in the archives that we have yet to identify (and at least one known project: Cardozo Raps).

Further reading:

Martin Luther King, Jr. portrait (child's drawing)
Close up excerpt of a child's drawing, in crayon, of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Large room containing stacks of cardboard boxes
A large room contains an exhibit display created from dozens of large cardboxes stacked vertically to ceiling height. Children's drawings and quotes are mounted on on select surfaces of some of the boxes. They read, in part, "I took things because…

Large room displaying stacks of cardboard boxes on which are mounted children's drawings and quotes
A large room is filled with stacks and stack of cardboard boxes serving as exhibit display cases. The boxes form a pathway through the space, and a bright window in the background is all that can be seen of the walls.

Cardboard box with black lettering describing special order cakes
Close up of the side of a large cardboard box featuring carefully lettered text in black marker, reading in part, "

Exhibit display made from tall stacks of large cardboard boxes
A large room contains an exhibit display created from dozens of large cardboxes stacked vertically to ceiling height. Children's drawings and quotes are mounted on on select surfaces of some of the boxes.

Child's drawing of a stop sign
Close-up shot of a child's drawing used in the exhibit, featuring a red stop sign in crayon.

Student
Portrait of a D.C. public school student, wearing a dark-colored winter hat with ear flaps. He can be seen from the shoulders up, with large trees behind him.

Smithsonian Institution shoulder patch
Close-up of a Smithsonian Institution patch on the shoulder of a white uniform shirt. The person wearing the uniform can't be seen in the photo.

Caramel candy exhibit model
Exhibit model made of caramel candy cubes assembled to represent the cardboard boxes used in the actual display.

Aerial view of cardboard boxes stacked for exhibit display
Aerial view of a large room containing an exhibit display created from dozens of large cardboxes stacked vertically to ceiling height. Children's drawings and quotes are mounted on on select surfaces of some of the boxes. A hanging chandelier with…

Projects in this collection: