The Edward and Betty Marcus Foundation commissioned WolfBrown to conduct a six-month evaluation of the foundation's activities from 2007-2012, in order to set future directions for its initiatives and giving in the area of digital learning in museums. The Foundation is unique in giving grants to a network of Texas museums at the intersection of visual arts and digital learning in museums.

The evaluation had two major parts: 1) An internally focused portion that investigated the impacts of Foundation grants and professional development on museum staff and programs; and 2) An externally focused portion that investigated the work of the Foundation in the context of national trends in education, visual arts education, and digital learning.

In the first, more internally focused portion of the research, WolfBrown researchers developed a survey sent out to nearly forty of the Texas museums participating in the MIDEA network. The survey was designed to provide a deeper understanding of the digital learning strategies at each museum and the ways in which the grants and professional development offerings from the Foundation had made an impact on museums' commitment to digital learning. Twenty-five of the most active museums also participated in intensive interviews designed to develop an in-depth picture of the opportunities and obstacles to digital education in each museum.

In the second, more externally focused portion of the research, WolfBrown researchers reviewed major trends in education, museum-based learning, and digital learning to provide a context for the research. In addition, researchers contacted a network of national experts in digital learning in museums. These experts included education and community outreach specialists, museum administrators and curators, developers and designers, as well as funders. In their interviews, these experts commented on their knowledge of MIDEA, major trends in the field, and promising developments and potential pitfalls for future investments in digital learning.

The evaluation resulted in recommendations for:

  • Future infrastructure and giving within the MIDEA network
  • Strategies for raising the profile of the project nationally and internationally
  • A set of scenarios for the Board to consider for the continued development of MIDEA

Consultants: Dr. Dennie Palmer Wolf, Jane Culbert, Lea Wolf
Year Complete: 2012