Skip to main content

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT Museum, records of the museum director

Identifier: AC-0539

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and contents

This collection documents the activities of the first director of the MIT Museum, Warren Seamans, a staff member in the Department of Humanities and the director of the museum from 1971 to 1996. Seamans founded the museum in 1971 as the Historical Collections, and under his direction, the Historical Collections was renamed the MIT Museum in 1980 after approval from the MIT Corporation and accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. The bulk of the collection spans from 1971 to 1996 and documents the organizational history of the museum as well as various exhibits the museum displayed and the programs and events the museum took part in. Overall, the material focuses on the activities of the museum as opposed to its path to becoming a museum, though there are records involving annual reports, accreditation, and finances.

Within Series 1, Administrative Records, there are digital files transferred from a 3.5 inch floppy disk (both files and disk image) for the Hypercard publication, MuseumQuarto: Journal of Interactive Criticism, no. 1, Winter, 1992-1993, 1993 December 16.


  • Creation: 1938 - 1997


Access note

This collection is open.

Digital Access Note

Some parts of this collection are available online. Links to specific online digital items are found within their entry in this finding aid.

Conditions Governing Use

Access to collections in the Department of Distinctive Collections is not authorization to publish. Please see the MIT Libraries Permissions Policy for permission information. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection or MIT.

Historical note

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Museum had it's origins in an exhibit project of the Office of the President and the Department of Humanities for the inauguration of President Jerome Wiesner in 1971. In December 1971, a Committee for Institute Memorabilia was formed, its name changed to the Committee for Historical Collections. Warren Seamans, a staff member in the Department of Humanities left the department in June 1973 to become the full time director of the Historical Collections. Under his direction, the Historical Collections collected and preserved historical artifacts of the Institute that were located throughout MIT. In 1980, with a vote of the MIT Corporation, it was officially re-named as the MIT Museum and began to develop exhibits, and educational programs for the MIT community and the wider public. The MIT Museum reports to the Associate Provost of the Arts.

Warren Seamans retired as director in 1996. He was succeeded by Jane Pickering (1998-2002) and John Durant (2005-present).


10 Cubic Feet (10 record cartons)

1.06 Megabytes (5 digital files)

Language of Materials


Abstract note

This collection documents the activities of the first director of the MIT Museum, Warren Seamans. Materials span Seamans’s tenure as director (1971 to 1996) and include administrative records, exhibit records, programmatic records, correspondence, and personal records of Seamans.

Arrangement note

Organized by archivists into five series: Series 1. Administrative Records; Series 2. Exhibits; Series 3. Programs; Series 4. Correspondence and Memoranda; Series 5. Warren Seamans’s Personal Records.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The files for MuseumQuarto: Journal of Interactive Criticism in series 1, Administrative Records, 1941-1997, that are for a Hypercard 2.0 publication most likely originally created on Mac OS System 6. This includes the files and the disk image. You may view the files as is with no guarantees of proper rendering and may require an emulator to access correctly.

Physical location

Materials are stored off-site. Advance notice is required for use.

Source of Acquisition

Records were transferred to the Department of Distinctive Collections (formerly the Institute Archives and Special Collections) from the MIT Museum in 2004.

Appraisal note

Duplicate copies of material were not retained. Travel brochures were not retained. Personnel files were destroyed/not sent to the archives.

Processing information note

Physical processing of AC-0539, MIT Museum, records of the museum director, scheduled during the Spring 2020 semester and completed by Simmons intern Kelly Ng was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Work continued on the collection remotely, but there was some physical work left undone, primarily - final arrangement, reboxing into manuscript boxes, adding new labels and barcodes to those boxes, and updating file level description and containers.

Processing staff were allowed back on campus in the spring of 2021. During that time, limited processing took place to finish the work begun in spring of 2020. Contents of boxes were added to designated series and listed but more detailed physical or intellectual arrangement was not done. The collection is still in the original record cartons and was not reboxed into manuscript boxes.

Arrangement of the collection was reconstructed based on the content of the folder. Loose items were foldered and dated. Some duplicate materials and personnel records (resumes from applicants, salary letters) were discarded during processing. Travel brochures were removed from the collection during processing.

Digital archivist, Joe Carrano imaged the 3.5 inch floppy disk in series 1 using Kryoflux in March 2020 and, in collaboration with intern Kelly Ng extracted the files in April 2020.

Guide to the Records of the MIT Museum
Greta Kuriger Suiter and Kelly Ng
2021 June
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US