Deborah Seid Howes, October 17, 2023


Deborah Seid Howes, October 17, 2023
Deborah Seid Howes
Deborah F Schwartz
Museum Education Consortium (MEC)
Museum Education
Inquiry-based Learning
Art Institute of Chicago
Monet’s Water Lilies
Kent Lydecker
Interactive Technology
University of Chicago
Los Angeles
Austin Children’s Museum
Deborah Howes is a museum educator and digital content developer who was a key participant in a project called the Museum Education Consortium in the late 1980s. 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. Additionally, Bank Street College's Center for Children and Technology was a central participant, lending their experience and expertise in creating some of the earliest interactive learning technology models from two projects: the Voyage of the Mimi, and Palenque.

Deb Howes talks about how she became a museum educator, first at the Contemporary Art Museum in Los Angeles, and then later at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Metropolitan Museum, and MoMA. She describes her upbringing, her educational background at University of Chicago, her work as an evaluator and a media producer, and her memories of this consortium project.
Time Summary
Track 1, 1:22.094 - Family Background, growing up in LA
Track 1, 06:00.794 - Wellesley and MIT
Track 1, 09:41.329 - Museum of Contemporary Art LA
Track 1, 13:03.038 - University of Chicago
Track 1, 16:10.994 - Art Institute of Chicago
Track 1, 25:09.054 - Macintosh and Hypercard
Track 2, 29:46.113 - MoMA and Pew Charitable Trust
Track 1, 31:40.362 - Impressionism
Track 1, 32:40.874 - first meeting of the MEC and Bill Burback
Track 1, 35:35.141 - Origin and purpose of the Museum Education Consortium
Track 1, 45:37.362 - Early primitive technology
Track 1, 50:04.482 -Austin, Technology and Children's Museum
Track 1, 53:21.61 - Metropolitan Museum and technology project
Track 1, 01:03:04.854 - Philippe de Montebello, education and technology
Track 1, 01:03:32.526 - Met shifts technology from the Education Department (2009)
Track 1, 01:06:22.058 - Legacy of the Museum Education Consortium
Deborah F. Schwartz
Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York at Oneonta
Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY