Publisher Johns Hopkins Advanced Academic Programs

The Johns Hopkins University Advanced Academic Programs, through its MA in Museum Studies and MA in Cultural Heritage Management programs, recently brought together some of the nation's most prominent leaders in cultural heritage to discuss the pivotal role of museums, libraries, and archives in fortifying civil society.

Watch the Panel Discussion

Event Highlights

Christopher Celenza speaking with panel for the Shared Heritage event.
Panelists left to right: Christopher S. Celenza (holding microphone), Colleen Shogan, Lonnie G. Bunch III, and Carla Hayden.

The event, titled “Democracy and Our Shared Heritage,” featured a distinguished panel including Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution Lonnie G. Bunch III, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, and Archivist of the United States Colleen Shogan. The discussion was moderated by Christopher S. Celenza, the James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

The evening panel emphasized the importance of collaboration among these key institutions in preserving and promoting democratic values. As highlighted by the panelists, museums, libraries, and archives serve as guardians of shared heritage and provide vital spaces for public engagement and dialogue. These institutions play a crucial role in safeguarding history and informing and enriching the citizenry about the United States and the world.

Lonnie Bunch III, speaking in a microphone on stage, with Colleen Shogan to the left, and Carla Hayden on the right.
Panelists, left to right: Colleen Shogan, Lonnie G. Bunch III (speaking), and Carla Hayden.

“Cultural institutions are trusted sources,” Bunch said. “At a time when a nation is in crisis, which seems to happen every decade, it’s crucially important to have places that you can dip into for trust, candor, and honesty, but it also means that these institutions have to have the courage to do that.”

Bunch, Hayden, and Shogan also shared insights on how their respective institutions contribute to the democratic process by making knowledge and heritage accessible to all using new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Colleen Shogan holding microphone, on stage with the panel, speaking.
Panelists, left to right: Christopher S. Celenza, Colleen Shogan (speaking), and Lonnie G. Bunch III.

“With technology, we are on the precipice of an amazing transformation at cultural institutions,” Shogan said. “We are just starting to harness the power of what we will be able to do.”

Bunch echoed that sentiment.

“The challenge for us is to recognize that we need to be comfortable with new technologies,” he said. “The future for places like the Smithsonian is to recognize that it doesn’t have broad enough shoulder to do everything. It’s made better by effective collaboration.”

Carla Hayden speaking.
Carla Hayden speaking at the event.

For Hayden, collaboration goes beyond what she called the “new gang of three,” referring to ongoing work being done between the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, and National Archives, all the way down to state, local, and regional levels.

“They look to you as setting standards and all types of things,” she said.

The event showcased the commitment of Johns Hopkins University’s MA in Museum Studies and MA in Cultural Heritage Management programs to fostering dialogue and collaboration among leaders in the field. In partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, the programs underscored the essential role that cultural institutions play in sustaining democracy and keeping history intact.

“The concept of democracy is on all of our minds these days for lots of reasons,” Celenza said. “In our schools of arts and sciences, they all share one ideal, the pursuit of truth.”

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