Archives Finding Aid

This finding aid describes the full extent of the Michael Sand Archives.

Collection overview

Repository details

Michael Sand Archives
Jess Sand, Project Manager
Contact information

All physical materials are located in a climate-controlled, walk-in storage facility in Hudson, MA. The digital collection is stored at the personal home of Jess Sand in Oakland, CA and is also backed up via cloud storage.


Michael Sand

Collection title

Michael Sand Career Files


Circa 1960s-2000s


  • Documents, objects, and artwork: est. 50 linear feet
  • Video and audio cassettes: est. 16 cubic feet
  • 35mm slide negatives: est. 17 cubic feet (est. 5,000 items)


The Michael Sand Archives captures the singular career of a seminal and sometimes provocative figure in the museum design field. Michael Sand (1940-2013), was a prolific museum designer and educator who helped pioneer the use of hands-on and technology-driven practices in museums and other learning environments.

The expansive collection reflects Sand’s lengthy career from the early 1960s through early 2000s, the collaborative and experimental nature of the design field, and the radical evolution of museum design in the twentieth century. It explores subjects such as community development, public land use, and urban planning; city, county, and state government administration; race; immigration; political protest; science, computers, and technology; the role of play and interactivity in early childhood development and pedagogy; and more. 

Materials include business and personal correspondence; contracts, print collateral, and other documents; reports, feasibility studies, and project proposals; sketches and artwork; small objects; research materials; photographs and slide negatives; video and audio tape, film, books, press clippings, and more.


Materials are in English.

Administrative description

Processing notes

Begun in 2013, the collection is in an ongoing state of processing by Jess Sand, Michael’s youngest daughter. Initial processing directly following Sand’s death was minimal: the family collected all materials into a central location (boxes were initially dispersed across three properties: Sand’s residence, a commercial storage facility, and the basement of a commercial business belonging to a friend). Personal belongings were separated out from business materials, and all business materials were placed in vault storage from late 2013 to early 2019. In early 2019, all known stored materials were delivered to a climate controlled, walk-in storage facility in Hudson, MA, where they are being processed. 

Source of acquisition

Michael Sand Estate distribution and multiple small, posthumous donations (Margaret Sand, Alan Bernstein, Michael Spock).

The Boston Children’s Museum holds a small amount of material related to Sand’s tenure as Design Director, circa 1964. The personal estate of Michael Spock is believed to hold a couple of audio interviews with Sand. Many of Sand’s collaborators likely have materials related to his work held in private, though the extent is unknown. Collaborators and colleagues are encouraged to contact the archives with any details they may be able to share.



Access to the collection is at the sole discretion of the Michael Sand Estate and is by appointment only. Contact Jess Sand for assistance.

All copyrights are held by the Michael Sand Estate, with all rights reserved. Some content in the collection may be covered by additional copyright claims, though the extent is unknown.

Preferred citation

{Item Name}, Michael Sand Archives, courtesy of the Michael Sand Estate,

Collection description

Biographical note

Michael Sand was born in Brooklyn, NY on Aug. 9, 1940. He studied architecture at the University of Colorado in Boulder and graduated with a degree in Industrial Design from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1963, working for a brief period as a designer in the office of Charles and Ray Eames. He was appointed Design Director of the Boston Children’s Museum by director Michael Spock in 1964. In 1966, Sand became Art Director for the Education Development Center, led by cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner, working on award-winning materials like the “Man: A Course of Study” student curriculum, used nationwide in 1,700 schools across 47 states.

For the next three decades, Sand headed the firm Michael Sand, Inc. (later renamed Rare Media, Well Done, Inc.), spearheading design, graphics, and experiential learning projects nationwide. Sand helped launch a wave of innovative children’s museums in dozens of cities across the country, including Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Richmond VA, and Washington DC, creating a new standard for children’s museums that embraced play as a meaningful pedagogical tool.

Michael was married for 25 years to Margaret Sand, with whom he had two daughters, Zoe and Jessica. The couple first lived in one of Michael’s many adaptive reuse projects: a mechanic’s garage in Cambridge, Mass. that they converted into a live-work space. Eventually, they’d move to a more conventional house in Brookline, Mass. When the couple divorced, Michael took over an old bank in Dorchester, Mass., which had itself originally been a library. 

Michael never fully retired from design, though work slowed as he reached his 60s, when he earned his realtor license. He was reintroduced to a previous girlfriend, Lynne Williams, with whom he would spend the last decade of his life in Cambridge, Mass. Michael died from a rare form liver carcinoid tumor on November 18, 2013 at age 73.


The collection is split into two primary series: digital material and physical material. 

The digital material consists of 22 DVDs containing approximately 30,000 jpeg files (approx. 15,000 high resolution images and approx. 15,000 web resolution images). These are arranged into folders according to their original shipping containers, and further arranged (inconsistently) by client and project, in an attempt to preserve the original order of the slides themselves. Also included are several external hard drives containing digital files of unknown extent. 

The physical series consists of approximately 88 boxes. Approximately 36 boxes are arranged by date, client, and project according to Sand’s original order. The rest of the material is arranged by material type, primarily by client but with no identifiable order.

Subject headings


Series descriptions/container listing

Series 1: Business Operations

  • Subseries 1.1: Promotion and Press
    • Subseries 1.1.1: Press Clippings
    • Subseries 1.1.2: Promotional Items
  • Subseries 1.2: Office and Real Estate
  • Subseries 1.3: Legal and Accounting

Series 2: Design Work

Client/organizationStorage location
Barbara Ackerman
Allen County MuseumB0-S1-Bx107-C9, B0-S1-Bx107-C17
American Science & Engineering CompanyB0-S1-Bx107-C9
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum
Aptekar Arts ManagementB0-S1-Bx107-C9
Boston 200 CorporationB0-S1-Bx107-C9, B0-S1-Bx107-C16, B1-S4-Bx20-C0
Boston Computer MuseumB1-S1-Bx3-C0, B0-S1-Bx107-C10, B0-S1-Bx107-C18
Boston Museum of ScienceB0-S1-Bx107-C18
Boston University
Boston Zoological SocietyB0-S1-Bx107-C2, B0-S1-Bx107-C3, B0-S1-Bx107-C17, B1-S1-Bx3-C0
Boy Scouts of AmericaB0-S1-Bx107-C16, B0-S1-Bx107-C18
Brookline Council on the Arts & Humanities
Brookline Foundation
Cambridge Research Institute
Capitol Children’s MuseumB0-S1-Bx107-C10
Center for Post Marital Transition
The Children’s MuseumB2-S2-Bx31-C0, B0-S1-Bx107-C16, B0-S1-Bx107-C17, B0-S1-Bx107-C18
Chris Knight (The New Film Company)
City of BostonB0-S1-Bx107-C1, B0-S1-Bx107-C7, B0-S1-Bx107-C9, B0-S1-Bx107-C16, B1-S4-Bx19-C0, B1-S4-Bx21-C0
City of Cambridge
City of New Bedford, Dept. of Environmental ManagementB0-S0-Bx103-C0
Committee for the Better Use of AirB1-S3-Bx13-C0
Community Interaction Through Youth
Computer Access Corp.
Cultural Education CollaborativeB2-S2-Bx32-C0
D’Angelo’s Grilled SandwichesB0-S1-Bx107-C8
Dallas Historical Society
DC Museum of Modern Art
Denver Children’s MuseumB0-S1-Bx107-C6
Dream Machine Inc.
Drummey Rosane Anderson Inc. (now DRA Architects)
Dynamic SkisB0-S1-Bx107-C6, B0-S1-Bx107-C18
Ealing FilmsB0-S1-Bx107-C6
Educational Services Inc
Education Development Center (EDC)B0-S1-Bx107-C6, B1-S2-Bx7-C0, B1-S2-Bx8-C0, B1-S2-Bx9-C0, B1-S2-Bx10-C0, B1-S2-Bx11-C0, B1-S2-Bx12-C0, B1-S3-Bx18-C0
Educational Services Inc
Epcot Center/Epcot GardensB0-S1-Bx107-C11
Eureka! An Interactive Learning Center for ChildrenB0-S1-Bx107-C18
Gateway Regional High SchoolB0-S1-Bx107-C11
Gershman’s PizzaB0-S1-Bx107-C11
Hampshire CollegeB1-S3-Bx16-C0
Harvard Community Health Plan
Harvard Graduate School of DesignB0-S1-Bx107-C11
Harvard University Centerfor Cognitive Studies
Heritage Plantation of Sandwich Inc.
Holyoke Children’s Center
Institute of Contemporary Art
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Jacksonville Arts & Science Center
Johnstown Area Heritage Discovery Center
Kinautics Inc.
Knoxville Museum of Appalachia
L.E. Mason Co.B0-S1-Bx107-C18, B1-S4-Bx22-C0
London Zoo
Los Alamos New Mexico Energy Museum
Louisiana Children’s Museum
Lowell Canal District CommissionB2-S1-Bx24-C0
Lowell Historic Preservation CommissionB0-S1-Bx107-C16, B2-S1-Bx25-C0
Lowell Sun
Massachusetts Housing Finance AgencyB1-S3-Bx14-C0
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)B0-S1-Bx107-C1
Massachusetts Office of Planning and ProgramsB0-S1-Bx107-C1
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA)B0-S1-Bx107-C1
Massachusetts State Archives: Commonwealth MuseumB0-S1-Bx107-C16, B2-S3-Bx36-C0, 
Muncie Children’s MuseumB0-S0-Bx103-C0
Museum of Our National HeritageB0-S1-Bx107-C18
Museum of Science & IndustryB0-S1-Bx107-C10
National Fire Protection AssociationB2-S1-Bx26-C0, B2-S1-Bx27-C0, B2-S1-Bx28-C0, B2-S1-Bx29-C0
New Boston Bank & TrustB1-S3-Bx15-C0
Plymouth PlantationB5-S4-Bx102-C0
RISD Industrial Design SocietyB1-S1-Bx6-C0
RIX Drug StoresB0-S1-Bx107-C18
Santa Fe Children’s MuseumB0-S1-Bx107-C10
Sesame WorkshopB0-S1-Bx107-C18
Smithsonian Institution
The Lowell Sun
U.S. Dept. of Health Education and WelfareB0-S1-Bx107-C10, B0-S1-Bx107-C18
U.S. Dept. of the Interior Bureau of Land ManagementB2-S2-Bx34-C0
Unknown/UnassignedB0-S1-Bx107-C1, B0-S1-Bx107-C6, B0-S1-Bx107-C9, B0-S1-Bx107-C10, B0-S1-Bx107-C11, B0-S1-Bx107-C16, B0-S1-Bx107-C17
Washington DC Public SchoolsB0-S1-Bx107-C6, B0-S1-Bx107-C17, B0-S1-Bx107-C18, B1-S3-Bx17-C0
Wasserman Development CorporationB0-S1-Bx107-C5
Wellesley CollegeB2-S2-Bx30-C0
Whale Discovery CenterB0-S1-Bx107-C16
Whitehead InstituteB0-S1-Bx107-C5
Worcester Science Center