Building on the Educational Legacy of the Gorgas House Museum

Sonya Harwood-Johnson standing on the balcony of the Gorgas House Museum.

UA Museums is happy to announce Sonya Harwood-Johnson as the new Director of the Gorgas House Museum, filling a vacancy created by Dr. Brandon Thompson’s appointment as the new UA Museums Curator of History. Sonya has an MA in Religion in Culture, Digital Humanities Certificate, and Online Pedagogy Certificate from The University of Alabama and a BS degree in Anthropology and Religious Studies from Iowa State University. Sonya comes to UA Museums from the UA International Student and Scholar Services Office where she was responsible for implementing a variety of student programs, including the Multicultural Coffee Hour for which she increased attendance from 50 to 700 weekly. She also oversaw the International Peer Advisory Council and implemented the Global Tide Mentorship Program. She has collaborated with, and received funding from, 15 departments at UA in developing programs. Prior to moving to Tuscaloosa, Sonya gained experience in museum education, administration, exhibit development, and collections management at the Farm House Museum at Iowa State University. There, she created programming that increased daily attendance from less than five people to almost fifty. She also installed exhibits at ISU’s Art Museum.

One of Sonya’s goals as Director is to create an even more immersive experience as visitors walk through the Gorgas House Museum. By adding more interactive elements such as sound, smell, taste, and touch, guests can imagine what it was like to live in this house 75, 100, or even 150 years ago. 

“The Gorgas House is such a central piece of The University of Alabama’s history and I hope to continue to build on that legacy,” said Harwood-Johnson, Director of the Gorgas House Museum. “I would love to continue what Brandon Thompson has done to make the space a comfortable place for students, faculty, and staff to study, hang out, and be together. It is this togetherness that brings the feeling of home back to The Gorgas House.”