An Obituary: Sing Hanson

August 30, 2023

Sing Hanson died peacefully on Aug. 12, 2023, surrounded by her loving family in a sunlit room looking out to the garden in her Bedford home.

Sing’s legacy lives on through her capacious work in making art, building community, and spreading joy at the Boston Children’s Museum, the Bedford Center for the Arts, and the Umbrella in Concord.

Signe Christina (Anderson) Hanson was born in 1942 and raised near Geneva, Illinois. Her family moved to Barrington, Rhode Island in 1953. She graduated from Barrington High School and Smith College, and attended the Boston University School of Fine Arts.

Sing Hanson

For 35 years, Sing worked at the Boston Children’s Museum as graphic and exhibit designer and Director of Exhibitions from 1990 to 2001.

Dan Spock, a colleague, recalls: “Sing was a lively, playful person . . . [whose] deep understanding of play suffused her intuition for what would naturally be appealing for kids in an informal museum context. Most of all, Sing believed that exhibits must never preach, shame, make someone feel stupid or bad about themselves. She encouraged me and our other teammates to accept that if kids weren’t doing what we hoped or expected in an exhibit, this was not the failure of the kid, it was our failure to get it right as designers, and that a successful design process entailed a certain humility on our part. … This was the forward-looking visitor-centered ethic that put the Boston Children’s Museum in the vanguard of museums.” Her portfolio included some of BCM’s most popular and innovative exhibits, including “What if You Couldn’t?,” “Teen Tokyo,” “Arthur’s World,” and more. She shared her expertise with startup children’s museums widely in the United States, Mexico, Egypt, South Korea, and more.

Sing was a founding board member of the Bedford Center for the Arts. She brought joy and energy to the fledgling organization. Annual gala balls were fully subscribed in a matter of weeks and the Arts for All community-wide celebrations drew artists and appreciators by the hundreds to Bedford between 2000 and 2005. The BCA has grown and prospered ever since.

Sing joined the Umbrella Center for the Arts in Concord in 2005, and quickly became an integral part of the community. There, her art flourished as she explored digital fine arts printmaking, collage, and book arts. Her art pieces were shown at galleries throughout New England. A very gifted and generous artist, she was always ready to help and support other artists. She mounted many shows, including “Big Art Sculpture” and “Art in Agriculture.” Sing lightened conflicts with her humor and kindness.

For many years, Sing struggled against the relentless drumbeat of Alzheimer’s disease, as had her mother had before her. But she also inherited her mother’s strong spirit. Ever positive, she repeated her mother’s refrain, “Didn’t we have fun?” and her Scandinavian ancestors’ blessing, Takk for Alt (thanks for everything). Sing did not let Alzheimer’s overwhelm her grace, humor, courage, and beauty.​

Sing is survived by her husband of 56 years, Carl Hanson, and by her daughter Siri of Bedford, her brothers Karl of Warren, Rhode Island and Bob of Newtown, Pennsylvania, many nieces and nephews, and a wide circle of adoring friends from all her far-reaching endeavors.

We close this obituary with the traditional Hanson family toast: “Here’s to the absent ones.” As the absent ones are always present, here’s to Sing and to all your loved ones.

Sing’s extraordinary life will be celebrated at 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 8 at the First Parish Church, 75 Great Rd. in Bedford. Contributions in the memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 309 Waverly Oaks Road, Waltham, MA 02452, or

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