Kathleen S. Wilson, October 27, 2023


Kathleen S. Wilson, October 27, 2023
Kathleen S. Wilson
Deborah Schwartz
Museum Education Consortium (MEC)
Interactive Technology
Museum Education
Bank Street College
Voyage of the Mimi
Art Museums
Kathleen (Kathy) S. Wilson was a key participant in a project called the Museum Education Consortium in the late 1980s. At the time of the project, Kathy worked at Bank Street College in the Center for Children and Technology. She was the principal developer for a project called Palenque, which was an offshoot of a television show produced by Bank Street College, called the Voyage of the Mimi. Palenque, like the work of the Museum Education Consortium was designed to explore discovery-based uses for new technological tools including Mac II computers, video disc players, image capture boards, as well as high resolution digitized images and HDTV film.

After Bank Street and the MEC, Kathy went on to become Executive Producer, Paramount Media Kitchen; Vice President and Creative Director for Viacom Interactive Services; and then Adjunct Professor in the NYU Tisch Interactive Telecommunications Program.

She has a BA from Middlebury College, and her EdD in Cognitive Development Psychology and Media Design from Harvard University.

As part of an effort to recapture the history of Museum Education Consortium, Kathy agreed to be interviewed for this project, from her home in Colebrook, CT.

The Museum Education Consortium (MEC) was a project that involved a group of seven art museums working together from 1987 to 1990 to create experiments using interactive technology as an educational tool in museums and classrooms. The project happened in the years before the internet, and at a time when many companies (Apple, Bell Labs, and others) were hungry for content to test their new technologies, and museums were great partners for this. The project was funded by the Pew Charitable Trust and the Getty Education Center. The prototypes that were created were received enthusiastically by the public in various testing sites, but there was never a plan to produce a commercially available product. The project participants were eager to learn about the best pedagogical approaches, the possibilities of discovery-based learning techniques in the context of technology, the best hardware and software for such a project, as well as the impact of creating early HDTV images of works of art.

The active participants in the MEC were the heads of education and members of their staff. The project was spearheaded by the Museum of Modern Art and the six other partner museums were the Brooklyn Museum, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Philadelphia Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery, and the Metropolitan Museum.

Kathy Wilson talks about her work in the early days of interactive digital media, her time at Bank Street College and her memories of the Museum Education Consortium project.
Time Summary
Track 1, 04:16.13 - Bank Street College and Sam Gibbon
Track 1, 05:10.182 - Early interactive technology
Track 1, 08:04.426 - Aspen Movie Map Project at MIT, funded by the Department of Defense
Track 1, 09:43.00 - Iterative design
Track 1, 09:57.322 - Voyage of the Mimi and Ben Affleck
Track 1, 14:47.382 - Kathy starts talking to museum staff, meets Philip Yenawine from the Museum of Modern Art
Track 1, 17:28.978 - The philosophy of Bank Street College, Discovery-based learning, John Dewey
Track 1, 22:54.67 - The field of Museum Education
Track 1, 23:54.39 - Museum Education Consortium (MEC) was highly experimental
Track 1, 26:36.49 - Decision making and setting goals for MEC, discovery-based learning
Track 2, 31:44.108 - Different approaches to teaching about art
Track 1, 35:41.898 - Characters who played lead roles in interactive technology in the 1980s
Track 1, 38:22.87 - A visit to the Getty Foundation (funding)
Track 2, 41:36.32 - Intersecting idea about visual thinking
Track 1, 43:38.922 - CNN comes to report on the MEC prototype
Track 1, 47:06.382 - Showing the prototype to visitors. Lack of familiarity with technology. How to use a mouse.
Track 1, 47:38.071 - ARPANET, precursor to the internet
Track 2, 51:03.292 - Computer kiosks in museums. MEC prototype
Track 1, 01:02:02.23 - Evaluation and Diagnostic Tool
Track 1, Track 1
Track 1, 01:05:56.226 - Kathy Wilson after the MEC: Paramount Pictures, Viacom, NYU/ITP
Deborah Schwartz
Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York at Oneonta
Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, New York