About and History
Dedicated to the preservation, research and exhibition of cosmetics from antiquity through the 21st century, the Makeup Museum® is a progressive, unique space that explores makeup history, culture, design and packaging from all eras. The Makeup Museum is the first museum in the U.S. devoted exclusively to cosmetics and a leader in conceptualizing new ways of thinking about makeup and its cultural and artistic significance. Particular focus is given to previously unknown or little-known about histories and topics, offering an alternative account of makeup that challenges conventional narratives. Using an interdisciplinary approach that blends a variety of fields, especially material culture, art history, sociology, business, race and gender studies, the Makeup Museum offers a truly original perspective on makeup that goes beyond the canon.
In 2006, the Museum's founder and curator had the idea to develop a coffee table book devoted to the most beautiful makeup from the 1990s and early 2000s. From that idea grew the bigger notion of an entire museum to display these objects, along with older pieces and a visual history of the makeup industry. In 2008 the Museum's website was launched as a way to chronicle new makeup releases, research cosmetic objects and champion the idea of a dedicated cosmetics museum on a global scale. Over time the Museum evolved from a repository for well-designed makeup to a vital educational resource and agent for change.
The Makeup Museum is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization and a member of the International Perfume Bottle Association, the British Compact Collectors Society, the American Alliance of Museums, and a co-founding member of the Cosmetics History and Makeup Studies Network.
Location and hours
There is no public physical space for the Museum yet, but private in-person tours of the collection can be arranged and admission is FREE! (Donations are greatly appreciated but certainly not expected.) As of September 2022, private in-person tours are no longer available due to COVID. But the magic of the internet means you can visit online 24/7. The collection as well as most exhibitions are displayed in the Curator's Baltimore, Maryland home, while more in-depth exhibitions can be found here. Temporary/pop-up spaces are continually being explored. Subscribe to the blog feed or sign up for email updates for Museum news and announcements.
Museum Services and Inquiries
The Museum welcomes all inquiries. Please contact the Curator with any loan requests or photography permissions. The Curator is also available for press interviews, speaking engagements, consulting, research assistance, book contributions and other projects.
If you have an object you'd like to learn more about, please email the Curator with photos and any information you have. However, the Museum cannot provide valuations of artifacts. See the FAQ's for details on object inquiries.
The mission of the Makeup Museum is to:
- Preserve and document cosmetic objects from all eras and cultures for a variety of audiences: scholars, historians, makeup artists and enthusiasts, and the general public.
- Promote these objects as legitimate artifacts by examining the history, design, and artistic inspiration behind them.
- Explore the sociological and cultural impact of cosmetic artifacts, including their usage and advertising, along with makeup artistry and trends.
- Study and record the history of makeup, and serve as a worldwide research hub.
- Educate the public on the artistic, cultural, and historic value of makeup through exhibitions, publications, presentations, and workshops.
- Effect social change by displaying problematic artifacts and styles, discussing the harmful aspects of makeup history and beauty culture - both past and present - and recommending ways to take action.
The Makeup Museum is situated on the unceded ancestral land of the Susquehannock, Nentego (Nanticoke) and Piscataway peoples, now commonly known as Baltimore, MD. Please join the Museum in acknowledging the Native community, their elders both past and present, as well as future generations. The Makeup Museum recognizes the continued oppression of our country’s Native peoples and the role museums often play in this oppression. It also acknowledges the painful history of genocide and forced occupation of their territory, and that the Museum was founded upon exclusions and erasures of many Native peoples, including those on whose land this institution is located. This acknowledgement demonstrates a commitment to beginning the process of working to dismantle the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism. We strive to establish The Makeup Museum as an institute that develops and nurture positive relationships with the Indigenous peoples of this region as well as globally.
FY 2022 Annual Report