Excavating the History of the Archaeological Museum:
Racism and Repair in the Modern Academy

Beginning in the Fall of 2021, the Museum will embark on a three-year research project to understand the history of the Archaeological Museum and examine how the collecting, teaching, and exhibitionary uses of the collections were historically used in ways that perpetuated racist ideologies. Recent controversies in the fields of Classics, Egyptology, Archaeology, and museology have made clear that a more critical study of past practices is essential for developing more transparent, accurate, and transformative ways of teaching with material culture from the ancient world.

This project, funded through the Faculty grant in “Racism and Repair in the Modern Academy” is possible through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s recent grant to the Johns Hopkins Program in Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship.

Over the next three years, director Sanchita Balachandran will work closely with assistant curator Kate Gallagher and graduate students across the departments of Classics, History of Art, and Near Eastern Studies to conduct archival research on the history of collecting and teaching. The project will culminate in an exhibition that makes this history more transparent, and will also produce guidelines for more ethical practices in teaching with ancient archaeological collections.

The teaching space for the Archaeological Museum’s collection in Gilman Hall, ca. 1930s.