Robert “Mac” West is the principal of Informal Learning Experiences, Inc., a Denver, CO-based firm founded in 1992, which takes advantage of his extensive experience as a university professor, museum curator, museum director, and now consultant to informal learning organizations across North America and beyond. ILE is dedicated to helping informal learning organizations understand the environment in which they live, giving them the tools necessary for both intellectual and economic sustainability, and using their assets and opportunities to achieve the best outcomes for their communities and themselves.
Mac’s background is in science (PhD in evolutionary biology from the University of Chicago). He taught at Adelphi University in New York; served as curator of geology at the Milwaukee Public Museum while also adjunct professor of geological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; was director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History while also adjunct professor of geological sciences at the University of Pittsburgh; and was director of Cranbrook Institute of Science while also adjunct professor of anthropology at Oakland University. He recently was appointed a Research Associate in Paleontology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
In addition to ILE’s consulting work, it publishes the bimonthly journal The Informal Learning Review and maintains the ILE Traveling Exhibitions Database, the largest subscription web-based database of its type. Mac is a long-time member of the board of the National Center for Science Education and served on the boards of the Association of Science-Technology Centers and the Visitor Studies Association. He recently joined the board of the Rocky Flats Institute and Museum in Colorado. He presents regularly at conferences such as the Science Center World Congress, ECSITE, ASPAC, AAM, ASTC, and IAAPA. He recently was designated a Fulbright Specialist and assisted the National Science Foundation of Sri Lanka in planning for the establishment of that nation’s first science center.
Recent clients of ILE include the Shanghai Natural History Museum, China; the U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, TN; Academy of Model Aeronautics, Muncie, IN; Brookfield Zoo, Chicago; National Aquarium in Washington, DC; the cities of Brewer, Maine, Henderson, Nevada, and Rockville and Baltimore, Maryland; the Denver Museum of Nature and Science; the US Army Corps of Engineers; California State University-Chico; Museum of History and Industry, Seattle; Buffalo Museum of Science: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Albuquerque; the Department of Energy; the Texas Historical Commission; and the Macomb Hands-On Children’s Museum, Mount Clemens, Michigan.