Headlines at Hopkins: news releases from across
university Headlines
News by Topic: news releases organized by
subject News by Topic
News by School: news releases organized by the 
university's 9 schools & divisions News by School
Events Open to the Public (campus-wide) Events Open
to the Public
Blue Jay Sports: Hopkins Athletic Center Blue Jay Sports
Search News Site Search the Site

Contacting the News Staff: directory of
press officers Contacting
News Staff
Receive News Via Email (listservs) Receive News
Via Email
RSS News Feeds RSS News Feeds
Resources for Journalists Resources for Journalists

Virtually Live@Hopkins: audio and video news Virtually
Hopkins in the News: news clips about Hopkins Hopkins in
the News

Faculty Experts: searchable resource organized by 
topic Faculty Experts
Faculty and Administrator Photos Faculty and
Faculty with Homepages Faculty with Homepages

JHUNIVERSE Homepage JHUniverse Homepage
Headlines at Hopkins
News Release

Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
901 South Bond Street, Suite 540
Baltimore, Maryland 21231
Phone: 443-287-9960 | Fax: 443-287-9920

April 9, 2006
CONTACT: Lisa De Nike
(443) 287-9960

JHU Course Catalog: Museums and Controversy

The course: Museums and Controversy. Offered by the Department of the History of Science and Technology in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. 1 credit.

Meeting Time: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Spring 2007

The instructor: Visiting professor Arthur Molella, Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Director of the Smithsonian's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

Molella's stint at Johns Hopkins is part of the university's new Museums and Society Program, which offers an undergraduate minor. As part of the program, Johns Hopkins invites historians from the Smithsonian to teach and sends students to the Smithsonian to do research and internships. Molella is founding director of the Lemelson Center and has devoted his career to the history of invention, innovation and technology and to the increasingly complex relationship between science, technology and culture. His newest book, Invented Edens: Technocities of the 20th Century (in press, MIT), was written with Robert Kargon, professor in the Department of the History of Science and Technology.

Arthur Molella
Arthur Molella of the Smithsonian teaches a course about contentiousness surrounding museums as part of the Krieger School's new Museums and Society Program.

Syllabus: "Museums and Controversy" helps students understand why museums have become battlegrounds over the last two decades. Students discuss the rash of public controversies that have erupted over science and technology-related museum exhibits and explore the historical, social, cultural and political roots of those debates. Through readings, oral and written presentations, museum visits and a team curatorial project, students gain insight into the dilemmas that museum curators and historians have faced in this increasingly contentious environment.

Course Work: The course is an interesting mix of lectures, guest speakers, student discussions and presentations, as well as field trips. Guest speakers include Tom Crouch, senior curator of the Division of Aeronautics at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, who spoke about the controversial Enola Gay exhibit, and Cindy Kelly, president of the Atomic Heritage Foundation, who discussed the challenges inherent in trying to preserve history associated with the Manhattan Project. A visit to the Baltimore Museum of Industry allowed students an "up close and personal" look at how history is preserved and presented. Students also prepare for each week's topic by reading a variety of journal and book articles. Molella encourages class participation. "Students bring a refreshing perspective on the subject I'm teaching," he says. "I enjoy their insights, energy and commitment to social values. And they make me work to keep up-to-date in my field."

Overheard in class: "I was curating an exhibit called "Science and American Life," which opened in 1994. It included a section on the Manhattan Project and the Bomb. There was pressure on us not to show the resulting mushroom cloud, but we felt we had to do it. It made no sense to discuss the Bomb without showing what it actually did. These are tremendously controversial issues, and they go to the heart of the way we view and remember our history."
— Arthur Molella.

Students say: "Dr. Molella's class is a fantastic example of how something that may seem very specific — controversy in science museums — can bring in many topics that are important today. Presenting science is not only important for museums, but also for any one of us who may write or talk about something that includes science. Predicting possible controversy also teaches us all how to avoid situations that can derail the conversation from its point. I absolutely love the class."
— Margaret Putney, 23, graduate student in the Writing Seminars program, Chapel Hill, N.C.

"There is no substitute for experience, and Dr. Molella has it. Having survived the Culture Wars of the 1990s intact though scarred, he brings a gentle but determined outlook to the course and, despite this baptism by fire, never shies away from tackling the issues that make our eyebrows rise or stomachs turn. It's a delight just to listen to his stories, not to mention to hear his insights and challenges."
— Matthew Hansen, 22, junior anthropology major, San Francisco.

Photos of Molella in the class setting are available upon request. Contact Lisa De Nike at Lde@jhu.edu or by calling 443-287-9960.

Johns Hopkins University news releases can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.jhu.edu/news_info/news/
   Information on automatic e-mail delivery of science and medical news releases is available at the same address.

arrow Go to Headlines@HopkinsHome Page