Museums & Society (minor)

The minor in museums & society is concerned with the institutions that shape knowledge and understanding through the collection, preservation, interpretation, and/or presentation of objects, artifacts, materials, monuments, and historic sites. Through classroom teaching, research, and real encounters with museums, broadly defined, the minor promotes the study of material culture and its place in a wide range of scholarly disciplines. The role of such institutions and their contents in societies both past and present, including but not limited to their political, legal, ethical, and economic significance, is central to the minor’s concerns. In addition to curricular and scholarly activities within the university, the minor promotes meaningful connections with local and regional museums.

Academic Details

Overview of the Undergraduate Curriculum

Undergraduates minoring in museums & society begin their studies with the Introduction to the Museum sequence, which is offered annually. A program of interdisciplinary courses related to material culture and museums studies, three credits of practicum (courses work directly with objects and/or within a museum) and two courses from at least two primary departments beyond museums & society form the core of the minor.

Student Stories


The first of four Mellon-funded collaborations between the Program in Museums & Society and a local museum, Print by Print: Series from Dürer to Lichtenstein, opened at the Baltimore Museum of Art in the fall of 2011. Work on the exhibit, however, started much earlier with the Spring 2011 course Paper Museums: Exhibiting Prints at the BMA. Johns Hopkins students helped select the themes and objects, wrote text, and brainstormed programming for the exhibit of over 350 prints, many of which had never been exhibited before. View the online exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

As part of the Spring 2012 course Staging Suburbia, offered in collaboration with the Jewish Museum of Maryland, eight Johns Hopkins students researched artifacts, images and topics for the museum’s upcoming exhibit about Jewish migration in Baltimore and the development of the city’s northwest suburbs. Captivated by a 1963 photograph showing a woman throwing pizza dough, Evan Fowler ’12 went sleuthing through local archives, contemporary newspapers, and city directories, uncovering some surprising information. Read about his discoveries in a blog he wrote for the Jewish Museum’s website.

Emily Sneff ’11, a history major and museums & society minor, wrote her honors thesis in history on Sir Hans Sloane, whose personal collection formed the core of the now famous British Museum. For more about her project, visit the Emerging Museums Professionals blog.

Visit Vimeo to watch Suzanne Gold ’10, a recipient of the Evergreen Museum and Library Student Curator Internship, discuss the exhibit she curated on Alice Warder Garrett’s use of the theater as a means of self-definition and self-expression, which was played out in the private theater of the Evergreen House, where she lived during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century.


Alexandra Good ’12 interned at the Baltimore Museum of Art researching copyright issues as they relate to reproductions of works of art and Lydia Alcock ‘12 spent time at the Smithsonian Center for Education and Museum Studies (read more about her experience at the museums & society website). Other students have interned at the Walters Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the three teaching museums at Johns Hopkins (the Homewood Museum, the Evergreen Museum and Library, and the Archaeological Museum).  Beth Simmonds ’11 worked at the National Postal Museum while a Johns Hopkins student, which she parlayed into a full-time job upon graduation!  Read her story at Hopkins Interactive.

Study Abroad

The Program in Museums & Society offers intersession and summer classes that are held abroad; the galleries, museums, and streets of Paris, London, and Madrid have all served as living art laboratories for these courses.


Related Student Groups

Art Brigade

Thoroughfare Arts Magazine

Hopkins Museum Club

Campus & Baltimore Resources

Johns Hopkins is home to three teaching museums:

Museums in the greater-Baltimore-Washington area:

The Walters Art Museum

The Baltimore Museum of Art

The American Visionary Arts Museum

The National Gallery of Art

The Smithsonian

Majors & Minors Programs