What answer would you give to this Jeopardy-style clue: “it can be as small as a box or large as a build- ing, it can house artistic prints or ancient skulls, newspapers or snake skins, soup cans or sculptures, botanical gardens or miniatures, textiles or mummies.”
How about, “What is a museum?”
That’s the question we tackle in this issue’s cover story. It all started with a formal discussion that dean Katherine Newman initiated last year to discuss the impact of arts education in the 21st century. The seminar featured faculty and students from Johns Hopkins and the Maryland Institute College of Art, with guests from the Mellon Foundation, the University of Chicago, Stanford, and MIT. A dynamic conversation ensued about the role that the arts should play in the curriculum of a major research university.
We thought it would be interesting to take the pulse of the current state of the arts at Johns Hopkins, and share some of our findings in this issue of the magazine. To that end, our cover story explores the opportunities and challenges of museums and the art of display. Erik Ledbetter ’88, founder of a museum consulting firm and executive director of the U.S. National Committee of the International Council of Museums, introduces that article with an essay about the state of museums today and why it should matter to the Johns Hopkins community.
Of course we couldn’t cover everything arts-related at the Krieger school, but throughout these pages you’ll meet students, faculty, and alumni who are dedicated to the arts and who hold a steadfast belief that the arts should play a key role in the higher education curriculum.
Another article you won’t want to miss is our feature on big data. Scientists around the world are amassing mountains of data every day, and managing, interpreting, and applying this glut of information is the next great revolution in scientific discovery…and guess who’s at the forefront of this movement? Krieger school researchers, of course. Writer Mike Field helps us wrap our minds around this emerging field and answers the question, “How big is big?”
And finally, I want to direct your attention to our expansive online version of Arts & Sciences magazine. It’s not just a repeat of the stories you read here in print. We have Web exclusives, such as writer Ian Mathias’ interview with John Guess ’71, who recalls how his time at the Krieger school, during the height of the civil rights movement, inspired his career in the arts. Another story highlights Andrew Rosenberg ’12, recipient of a Provost’s Undergraduate research Award, and his exploration of the political firestorm over same-sex marriage under way in his native iowa. In addition to the Web exclusives, you’ll find Web extras—additional information, photos, and videos—that accompany many of the print articles.