Marianna Adams, a leading researcher on how people learn in museums, was the 2014 Gardner Museum Educator-In-Residence.
Adams has worked with museums and cultural organizations across the country, helping staff better understand and engage diverse audiences. She has conducted seminal visitor research studies, and works collaboratively to help museum professionals embed appropriate and manageable evaluation strategies into their programs. Adams’s areas of evaluation and research expertise include assessing effectiveness of community partnerships, museum/school collaborations, and learning in interactive/participatory experiences.
Adams began her career as a K-12 teacher before going on to head education departments at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, and Museum of Art, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Broadening her expertise to include the field of “informal” learning, she pursued her doctorate in education policy studies from the George Washington University. As senior researcher at the Institute for Learning Innovation (1995-2007) she oversaw scores of groundbreaking projects, including one on museum multiple visit programs that led to her being hired as lead investigator for the Gardner’s Thinking Through Art research project (2003-2006). She formed her own consulting company, Audience Focus Inc., in 2007.
In her career as an evaluator/researcher, Adams has managed over 100 projects in the U.S. and Canada. She regularly presents at national conferences, has published numerous articles and book chapters, and has presented internationally in Ottawa, Canada, Lisbon, Portugal, London, and Mexico City. Adams has also served as an adjunct professor for both the Museum Studies and Museum Education graduate programs at the George Washington University. She is currently an adjunct professor for the Bank Street College of Education's Museum Education graduate program and Oregon State University's Free-Choice Science Education graduate program.