What Is a Museum?

Museums are places where valuable, historically important artifacts are displayed for public viewing. While museums can have many different purposes, they are all bound by a common goal of preservation. They also offer an important contribution to quality of life in their local communities.

There are several types of museums, including general museums, which reflect the culture and history of a given region. These can be located in large cities, rural areas or even small towns. Historically, the term museum was used for both private and public establishments. Several early museums were built by wealthy individuals or were established for educational purposes.

The first museum is believed to have been the Alexandria Library in the early third century BCE. It was considered to be the “great Museum at Alexandria.” This was a university, not just a place for display of objects.

In the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the United States began to emulate the European models of the museum. These institutions often mimicked the museum layout and collecting habits of Europe. However, there have been many differences.

Today, most museums offer programs for a wide variety of audiences. These can include lectures by field experts, technology demonstrations and even musical performances. Some may also purchase artifacts and bequests.

Museums today are generally secular spaces where the public can learn about the history of a certain area. Many of these museums are rooted in local pride and civic duty, while others are nationalistic in nature. Some of these museums are pop-up or non-traditional institutions. Pop-up museums are generally static displays and usually require visitors to provide the labels and other information.

General museums are often found in North and South America, Australia and New Zealand. Although these organizations have a strong focus on locality, they have a diverse range of subjects.

Traditionally, the word museum referred to the philosophical discussion that took place in the Greek mouseion. This was a building dedicated to the Muses. During ancient Greece, this building was a place for learning and cultivation of the arts.

As with any field, there are different philosophies and philosophies of the museum. Science museums are thought of as hands-on, while art museums are thought of as places where people stand in silence. Regardless of which definition you choose, all museums have a story to tell.

The ICOM museum definition process takes roughly 18 months to complete. Members of the Standing Committee for the Museum Definition worked to formulate a new methodology and restructure the process. After the ICOM Define committee approved the name, the process was put in motion. During the next ICOM General Conference, the museum definition process will be voted on.

ICOM’s Standing Committee for the Museum Definition aims to provide more transparency and democratic consultation. Their proposal for the museum definition process is based on the results of two consultations. The first enables committees to submit reports and responses on their activities. The second is an opportunity to consider and discuss the top five definition proposals.