Phyllis Hecht, Director of Community Engagement

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Phyllis Hecht – Bio

Phyllis Hecht has been recognized as a leader in the museum field for her innovative work in education, design, strategic planning, and technology.

Her museum career began at the National Gallery of Art in the retail shops, followed by photographic services, and then the publishing office as an editor and award-winning graphic designer. She was the recipient of the American Alliance of Museums Design Award, the Federal Design Achievement Award, and the Association of American University Presses Design Award for multiple publications from 1986-1999.

In 1996, she was invited to be on the development team of the National Gallery’s original website ( and took on the role of website manager in 1997. Her leadership in web design and management, audience engagement, and content strategy had an impact on the museum’s significant recognition in the online space and became the foundation of her research that focuses on best practices and innovative use of technology in museum practice. In 2007, she co-edited The Digital Museum: A Think Guide, an anthology on museums and technology.

In 2008, recognizing the need for a Museum Studies program that focused on technology, she collaborated with colleagues to launch the Johns Hopkins University Master of Arts in Museum Studies online graduate program and became its founding director. In addition to incorporating a thread of technology through the content of the curriculum, she created activities for students to learn how to communicate and collaborate in an online environment. The curriculum was constructed to confront the challenges facing current and future museum professionals — from audience expectations to global perspectives, advocacy, diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI), as well as best practices in media and technology, digital literacy skills, and museums as agents of social change. Under her leadership, a dynamic online community consisting of faculty, students, and alumni was created to network and examine museum practices.

During her tenure as Director, Ms. Hecht received grants from Johns Hopkins University for DEAI initiatives; travel to China to collaborate and exchange ideas with museum colleagues and academics; facilitation of summits on topics of digital curation and STEM; as well as initiatives related to current issues of museums and the environment.

Ms. Hecht has published papers and participated in international panels on topics of museums and technology, building online community, current practices in digital curation, and fundamentals of grant writing. She has served on the boards of the American Alliance of Museum’s Professional Networks, as Chair of the Committee on Museum Professional Training (now Museum Studies Network) and as the Muse Awards Chair of the Media and Technology Committee. She also served on the International Advisory Board for the “One-by-One” grant project, led by the University of Leicester, to address digital literacy skills within the museum workforce.

Ms. Hecht received a B.S. in Journalism and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Maryland, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching in Museum Education from George Washington University.