Museum
Overview
 
A museum is an institution that cares for
Preservation (library and archival science)
Preservation is a branch of library and information science concerned with maintaining or restoring access to artifacts, documents and records through the study, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of decay and damage....

 a collection
Collection (museum)
A museum is distinguished by a collection of often unique objects that forms the core of its activities for exhibitions, education, research, etc. This differentiates it from an archive or library, where the contents may be more paper-based, replaceable and less exhibition oriented...

 of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits
Display case
A display case is a cabinet with one or often more transparent glass sides and/or top, used to display objects for viewing, for example in an exhibition, museum, house, in retail, or a restaurant. Often labels are included with the displayed objects, providing information...

 that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities throughout the world and more local ones exist in smaller cities, towns and even the countryside. The continuing acceleration in the digitization of information, combined with the increasing capacity of digital information storage, is causing the traditional model of museums (i.e.
Encyclopedia
A museum is an institution that cares for
Preservation (library and archival science)
Preservation is a branch of library and information science concerned with maintaining or restoring access to artifacts, documents and records through the study, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of decay and damage....

 a collection
Collection (museum)
A museum is distinguished by a collection of often unique objects that forms the core of its activities for exhibitions, education, research, etc. This differentiates it from an archive or library, where the contents may be more paper-based, replaceable and less exhibition oriented...

 of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits
Display case
A display case is a cabinet with one or often more transparent glass sides and/or top, used to display objects for viewing, for example in an exhibition, museum, house, in retail, or a restaurant. Often labels are included with the displayed objects, providing information...

 that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities throughout the world and more local ones exist in smaller cities, towns and even the countryside. The continuing acceleration in the digitization of information, combined with the increasing capacity of digital information storage, is causing the traditional model of museums (i.e. as static “collections of collections” of three-dimensional specimens and artoifnifacts) to expand to include virtual exhibits
Virtual museum
A virtual museum is a museum that exists only online. A virtual museum is also known as an online museum, electronic museum, hypermuseum, digital museum, cybermuseum or Web museum...

 and high-resolution images of their collections for perusal, study, and exploration from any place with Internet connectivity.

History

Early museums began as the private collections of wealthy individuals, families or institutions of art
Work of art
A work of art, artwork, art piece, or art object is an aesthetic item or artistic creation.The term "a work of art" can apply to:*an example of fine art, such as a painting or sculpture*a fine work of architecture or landscape design...

 and rare or curious natural objects and artifacts.

The museums of ancient times, such as the Musaeum
Musaeum
The Musaeum or Mouseion at Alexandria , which included the famous Library of Alexandria, was an institution founded, according to Johannes Tzetzes, by Ptolemy I Soter or, perhaps more likely, by Ptolemy II Philadelphus at Hellenistic Alexandria in Egypt. The Mouseion remained supported by the...

 of Alexandria, would be equivalent to a modern graduate institute.

Early museums began as the private collections of wealthy individuals, families or institutions of art and rare or curious natural objects and artifacts
Artifact (archaeology)
An artifact or artefact is "something made or given shape by man, such as a tool or a work of art, esp an object of archaeological interest"...

. These were often displayed in so-called wonder rooms or cabinets of curiosities
Cabinet of curiosities
A cabinet of curiosities was an encyclopedic collection in Renaissance Europe of types of objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined. They were also known by various names such as Cabinet of Wonder, and in German Kunstkammer or Wunderkammer...

. Public access was often possible for the "respectable", especially to private art collections, but at the whim of the owner and his staff. The oldest such museum in evidence was Ennigaldi-Nanna's museum
Ennigaldi-Nanna's museum
Ennigaldi-Nanna's museum is the first museum known to historians dating to circa 530 BCE.Casey, p. "Public Museum" Around 530 B.C.E. in Ur, an educational museum containing a collection of labeled antiquities was founded by Ennigaldi-Nanna the, daughter of Nabonidus, the last king of...

, dating from c. 530 BCE and devoted to Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

n antiquities; it apparently had sufficient traffic as to warrant a labels
Museum label
A museum label or caption is a label describing an object exhibited in a museum, or one introducing a room or area, or the whole museum.-Introduction labels:...

 for the ordered collection.

The oldest public museums in the world opened in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

. However, many significant museums in the world were not founded until the 18th century and the Age of Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

:
  • the Capitoline Museums
    Capitoline Museums
    The Capitoline Museums are a group of art and archeological museums in Piazza del Campidoglio, on top of the Capitoline Hill in Rome, Italy. The museums are contained in three palazzi surrounding a central trapezoidal piazza in a plan conceived by Michelangelo Buonarroti in 1536 and executed over...

    , the oldest public collection of art in the world, began in 1471 when Pope Sixtus IV
    Pope Sixtus IV
    Pope Sixtus IV , born Francesco della Rovere, was Pope from 1471 to 1484. His accomplishments as Pope included the establishment of the Sistine Chapel; the group of artists that he brought together introduced the Early Renaissance into Rome with the first masterpiece of the city's new artistic age,...

     donated a group of important ancient sculptures to the people of Rome.
  • the Vatican Museums
    Vatican Museums
    The Vatican Museums , in Viale Vaticano in Rome, inside the Vatican City, are among the greatest museums in the world, since they display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries, including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and...

    , the second oldest museum in the world, traces its origins to the public displayed sculptural collection begun in 1506 by Pope Julius II
    Pope Julius II
    Pope Julius II , nicknamed "The Fearsome Pope" and "The Warrior Pope" , born Giuliano della Rovere, was Pope from 1503 to 1513...

  • the Amerbach Cabinet, originally a private collection, was bought by the university and city of Basel
    Basel
    Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

     in 1661 and opened to the public in 1671.
  • the Royal Armouries
    Royal Armouries
    The Royal Armouries is the United Kingdom's National Museum of Arms and Armour. It is the United Kingdom's oldest museum, and one of the oldest museums in the world. It is also one of the largest collections of arms and armour in the world, comprising the UK's National Collection of Arms and...

     in the Tower of London
    Tower of London
    Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London, is a historic castle on the north bank of the River Thames in central London, England. It lies within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, separated from the eastern edge of the City of London by the open space...

     is the oldest museum in the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

    . It opened to the public in 1660, though there had been paying privileged visitors to the armouries displays from 1592. Today the museum has three sites including its new headquarters in Leeds
    Leeds
    Leeds is a city and metropolitan borough in West Yorkshire, England. In 2001 Leeds' main urban subdivision had a population of 443,247, while the entire city has a population of 798,800 , making it the 30th-most populous city in the European Union.Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial...

    .
  • the Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'archéologie
    Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'archéologie de Besançon
    The Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'archéologie in the French city of Besançon is the oldest public museum in France...

     in Besançon
    Besançon
    Besançon , is the capital and principal city of the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. It had a population of about 237,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area in 2008...

     was established in 1694 after Jean-Baptiste Boisot
    Jean-Baptiste Boisot
    Jean-Baptiste Boisot or the Abbé Boisot was a French abbot, bibliophile and scholar notable for leaving his collection of manuscripts to the Benedictine monks of Saint-Vincent, for leaving his library to his birthplace of Besançon and for his correspondence with Madeleine de...

    , an abbot, gave his personal collection to the Benedictines of the city in order to create a museum open to the public two days every week.
  • the British Museum
    British Museum
    The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

     in London
    London
    London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

    , was founded in 1753 and opened to the public in 1759. Sir Hans Sloane's
    Hans Sloane
    Sir Hans Sloane, 1st Baronet, PRS was an Ulster-Scot physician and collector, notable for bequeathing his collection to the British nation which became the foundation of the British Museum...

     personal collection of curios provided the initial foundation for the British Museum's collection.
  • the Uffizi Gallery
    Uffizi
    The Uffizi Gallery , is a museum in Florence, Italy. It is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world.-History:...

     in Florence
    Florence
    Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

    , which had been open to visitors on request since the 16th century, was officially opened to the public 1765
  • the Belvedere Palace
    Belvedere (palace)
    The Belvedere is a historical building complex in Vienna, Austria, consisting of two Baroque palaces the Upper and Lower Belvedere, the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. The buildings are set in a Baroque park landscape in the 3rd district of the city, south-east of its centre. It houses the...

     of the Habsburg monarchs in Vienna
    Vienna
    Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

     opened with a collection of art in 1781
  • Louvre
    Louvre
    The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

     in Paris
    Paris
    Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

     France. The Mona Lisa
    Mona Lisa
    Mona Lisa is a portrait by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is a painting in oil on a poplar panel, completed circa 1503–1519...

     Painting by Leonardo Da Vinci
    Leonardo da Vinci
    Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

     resides in the Louvre.

  • The Charleston Museum
    Charleston Museum
    The Charleston Museum was the first museum built in America and was founded in 1773. It is located in the Downtown Historic District of Charleston, South Carolina....

     was established in 1773 thereby making it the first American museum. It did not open to the public until 1824.


These "public" museums, however, were often accessible only by the middle and upper classes. It could be difficult to gain entrance. In London for example, prospective visitors to the British Museum had to apply in writing for admission. Even by 1800 it was possible to have to wait two weeks for an admission ticket. Visitors in small groups were limited to stays of two hours. In Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 times in England it became popular for museums to be open on a Sunday afternoon (the only such facility allowed to do so) to enable the opportunity for "self improvement" of the other - working - classes.

The first truly public museum was the Louvre Museum
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, opened in 1793 during the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, which enabled for the first time in history free access to the former French royal collections for people of all stations and status. The fabulous art treasures collected by the French monarchy over centuries were accessible to the public three days each "décade" (the 10-day unit which had replaced the week in the French Republican Calendar
French Republican Calendar
The French Republican Calendar or French Revolutionary Calendar was a calendar created and implemented during the French Revolution, and used by the French government for about 12 years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871...

). The Conservatoire du muséum national des Arts (National Museum of Arts's Conservatory) was charged with organizing the Louvre as a national public museum and the centerpiece of a planned national museum system. As Napoléon I
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 conquernf qled the great cities of Europe, confiscating art objects as he went, the collections grew and the organizational task became more and more complicated. After Napoleon was defeated in 1815, many of the treasures he had amassed were gradually returned to their owners (and many were not). His plan was never fully realized, but his concept of a museum as an agent of nationalistic fervor had a profound influence throughout Eurrope.

American museums eventually joined European museums as the world's leading centers for the production of new knowledge in their fields of interest. A period of intense museum builejding, in both an intellectual acnd physical sense was realized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (this is often called "The Museum Period" or "The Museum Age"). While many American museums, both Natural History museums and Art museums alike, were founded with the intention of focusing on the scientific discoveries and artistic developments in North America, many moved to emulate their European counterparts in certain ways (including the development of Classical collections from ancient Egypt, Greece, Mesopreotamia and Rome). Universities became the primary centers for innovative research in the United States well before the start of the Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Nevertheless, museums to this day contribute new knowledge to their fields and continue to build collections that are useful for both research and display.

Purpose

Museums collect and care for objects of scientific, artistic, or historical importance and make them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities throughout the world and more local ones exist in smaller cities, towns and even the countryside. Many times, museums concentrate on the host region's culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

.

Although most museums do not allow physical contact with the associated artifacts, there are some that are interactive and encourage a more hands-on approach. Modern trends in museology
Museology
Museology is the diachronic study of museums and how they have established and developed in their role as an educational mechanism under social and political pressures.-Overview:...

 have broadened the range of subject matter and introduced many interactive exhibit
Virtual museum
A virtual museum is a museum that exists only online. A virtual museum is also known as an online museum, electronic museum, hypermuseum, digital museum, cybermuseum or Web museum...

s, which give the public the opportunity to make choices and engage in activities that may vary the experience from person to person. With the advent of the internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

, there are growing numbers of virtual exhibits
Virtual museum
A virtual museum is a museum that exists only online. A virtual museum is also known as an online museum, electronic museum, hypermuseum, digital museum, cybermuseum or Web museum...

, i.e. web versions of exhibits showing images and playing recorded sound.

Museums are usually open to the general public, sometimes charging an admission fee
Fee
A fee is the price one pays as remuneration for services. Fees usually allow for overhead, wages, costs, and markup.Traditionally, professionals in Great Britain received a fee in contradistinction to a payment, salary, or wage, and would often use guineas rather than pounds as units of account...

. Some museums are publicly funded and have no entrance fee, either permanently or on special days, e.g. once per week or year.

Museums are usually not run for the purpose of making a profit
Profit (economics)
In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total opportunity costs of a venture to an entrepreneur or investor, whilst economic profit In economics, the term profit has two related but distinct meanings. Normal profit represents the total...

, unlike private galleries which more often engage in the sale of objects. There are governmental museums, non-governmental or non-profit
Non-profit organization
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...

 museums, and Private museum
Private museum
A private museum is a collection, usually on a very limited topic and operated by individual enthusiasts, collectors, clubs or companies.- Overview :...

s. Museums can be a reputable and generally trusted source of information about cultures and history.

Definitions include: "permanent institution in the of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates
Heritage interpretation
Heritage interpretation is the communication of information about, or the explanation of, the nature, origin, and purpose of historical, natural, or cultural resources, objects, sites and phenomena using personal or non-personal methods....

 and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment, for the purposes of education
Museum education
Museum education is an important part of the role of museums.- Introduction :A museum's collection can be used to support education in a variety of ways...

, study, and enjoyment
Entertainment
Entertainment consists of any activity which provides a diversion or permits people to amuse themselves in their leisure time. Entertainment is generally passive, such as watching opera or a movie. Active forms of amusement, such as sports, are more often considered to be recreation...

", by the International Council of Museums
International Council of Museums
The International Council of Museums is an international organization of museums and museum professionals that is committed to the conservation, continuation and communication to society of the world's natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible.- Overview :Created...

; and "Museums enable people to explore collections for inspiration, learning and enjoyment. They are institutions that collect, safeguard and make accessible artifacts and specimens, which they hold in trust for society," by the UK Museums Association
Museums Association
The Museums Association is a professional organisation based in London for museum professionals and museums in the United Kingdom.The association is the oldest museum association in the world and was started in 1889 by a small group of museums to protect the interests of museums and galleries...

.

Based on John H. Falk’s Museum Visitor Experience Model, to understand why people visit museums, an examination of an individual’s motivation AND an understanding of a specific museum’s purpose are needed. Falk identifies five “identity related museum motivation” categories (explorer, facilitator, experience seeker, professional/hobbyist, recharger), and claims that a visitor’s motivation-identity at the start of a visit, with the addition of the visit’s personal, physical, and socio-cultural contexts will determine the visitor’s satisfaction.

Types

Types of museums vary, from very large collections in major cities, covering many of the categories below, to very small museums covering either a particular location in a general way, or a particular subject, such as an individual notable person. Categories include: fine art
Fine art
Fine art or the fine arts encompass art forms developed primarily for aesthetics and/or concept rather than practical application. Art is often a synonym for fine art, as employed in the term "art gallery"....

s, applied art
Applied art
Applied art is the application of design and aesthetics to objects of function and everyday use. Whereas fine arts serve as intellectual stimulation to the viewer or academic sensibilities, the applied arts incorporate design and creative ideals to objects of utility, such as a cup, magazine or...

s, craft
Craft
A craft is a branch of a profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work. In historical sense, particularly as pertinent to the Medieval history and earlier, the term is usually applied towards people occupied in small-scale production of goods.-Development from the past until...

, archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 and ethnology
Ethnology
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...

, history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, cultural history
Cultural history
The term cultural history refers both to an academic discipline and to its subject matter.Cultural history, as a discipline, at least in its common definition since the 1970s, often combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural...

, military history
Military history
Military history is a humanities discipline within the scope of general historical recording of armed conflict in the history of humanity, and its impact on the societies, their cultures, economies and changing intra and international relationships....

, science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

, technology
Technology
Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, and procedures. The word technology comes ;...

, children's museum
Children's museum
Children's museums are institutions that provide exhibits and programs to stimulate informal learning experiences for children. In contrast with traditional museums that typically have a hands-off policy regarding exhibits, children's museums feature interactive exhibits that are designed to be...

s, maps
Map collection
A map collection is a storage facility for maps, usually in a library, archive, or museum, or at a map publisher or public authority, and the maps and other cartographic items stored within that facility....

, natural history
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

, numismatics
Numismatics
Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. While numismatists are often characterized as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the...

, botanical
Botanical garden
A botanical garden The terms botanic and botanical, and garden or gardens are used more-or-less interchangeably, although the word botanic is generally reserved for the earlier, more traditional gardens. is a well-tended area displaying a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names...

 and zoological garden
Zoo
A zoological garden, zoological park, menagerie, or zoo is a facility in which animals are confined within enclosures, displayed to the public, and in which they may also be bred....

s and philately
Philately
Philately is the study of stamps and postal history and other related items. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting, which does not necessarily involve the study of stamps. It is possible to be a philatelist without owning any stamps...

. Within these categories many museums specialize further, e.g. museums of modern art
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

, local history, aviation
Aviation
Aviation is the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially heavier-than-air aircraft. Aviation is derived from avis, the Latin word for bird.-History:...

 history, agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 or geology
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

. Another type of museum is an encyclopedic museum. Commonly referred to as a universal museum, encyclopedic museums have collections representative of the world and typically include art, science, history, and cultural history. An encyclopedic museum can also be a specific type of museum but whose collection is not limited to works of its region, i.e. the British Museum is an example of an encyclopedic museum while the Art Institute of Chicago is an example of an encyclopedic art museum. A museum normally houses a core collection of important selected objects in its field. Objects are formally accession
Accession
Accession has different definitions depending upon its application. In Property law, it is a mode of acquiring property that involves the addition of value to property through labor or the addition of new materials. In English Common law, the added value belonged to the original property's owner,...

ed by being registered in the museum's collection with an artifact number and details recorded about their provenance
Provenance
Provenance, from the French provenir, "to come from", refers to the chronology of the ownership or location of an historical object. The term was originally mostly used for works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of fields, including science and computing...

. The persons in charge of the collection and of the exhibits are known as curator
Curator
A curator is a manager or overseer. Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution is a content specialist responsible for an institution's collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material...

s.

Archaeology museums

Archaeology museums specialize in the display of archaeological artifacts. Many are in the open air, such as the Acropolis of Athens
Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens or Citadel of Athens is the best known acropolis in the world. Although there are many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as The Acropolis without qualification...

 and the Roman Forum
Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Citizens of the ancient city referred to this space, originally a marketplace, as the Forum Magnum, or simply the Forum...

. Others display artifacts found in archaeological sites inside buildings. Some, such as the Western Australian Museum
Western Australian Museum
The Western Australian Museum is the state museum for Western Australia.The Western Australian Museum has seven main sites: two in Perth within the Perth Cultural Centre, two in Fremantle , and one each in Albany, Geraldton, and Kalgoorlie-Boulder...

, exhibit maritime archaeological materials. These appear in its Shipwreck Galleries, a wing of the Maritime Museum. This Museum has also developed a 'museum-without-walls' through a series of underwater wreck trails.

Art museums

An Art museum, also known as an art gallery, is a space for the exhibition of art, usually in the form of art objects
Work of art
A work of art, artwork, art piece, or art object is an aesthetic item or artistic creation.The term "a work of art" can apply to:*an example of fine art, such as a painting or sculpture*a fine work of architecture or landscape design...


from the visual arts
Visual arts
The visual arts are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, and often modern visual arts and architecture...

, primarily painting
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

s, illustration
Illustration
An illustration is a displayed visualization form presented as a drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that is created to elucidate or dictate sensual information by providing a visual representation graphically.- Early history :The earliest forms of illustration were prehistoric...

s, and sculpture
Sculpture
Sculpture is three-dimensional artwork created by shaping or combining hard materials—typically stone such as marble—or metal, glass, or wood. Softer materials can also be used, such as clay, textiles, plastics, polymers and softer metals...

. Collections of drawing
Drawing
Drawing is a form of visual art that makes use of any number of drawing instruments to mark a two-dimensional medium. Common instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax color pencils, crayons, charcoal, chalk, pastels, markers, styluses, and various metals .An artist who...

s and old master print
Old master print
An old master print is a work of art produced by a printing process within the Western tradition . A date of about 1830 is usually taken as marking the end of the period whose prints are covered by this term. The main techniques concerned are woodcut, engraving and etching, although there are...

s are often not displayed on the walls, but kept in a print room
Print room
A print room is either a room or industrial building where printing takes place, or a room in an art gallery or museum, where a collection of old master and modern prints, usually together with drawings, watercolours and photographs, are held and viewed. The latter meaning is the subject of this...

. There may be collections of applied art
Applied art
Applied art is the application of design and aesthetics to objects of function and everyday use. Whereas fine arts serve as intellectual stimulation to the viewer or academic sensibilities, the applied arts incorporate design and creative ideals to objects of utility, such as a cup, magazine or...

, including ceramics
Ceramic art
In art history, ceramics and ceramic art mean art objects such as figures, tiles, and tableware made from clay and other raw materials by the process of pottery. Some ceramic products are regarded as fine art, while others are regarded as decorative, industrial or applied art objects, or as...

, metalwork
Metalworking
Metalworking is the process of working with metals to create individual parts, assemblies, or large scale structures. The term covers a wide range of work from large ships and bridges to precise engine parts and delicate jewelry. It therefore includes a correspondingly wide range of skills,...

, furniture, artist's books and other types of object. Video art
Video art
Video art is a type of art which relies on moving pictures and comprises video and/or audio data. . Video art came into existence during the 1960s and 1970s, is still widely practiced and has given rise to the widespread use of video installations...

 is often screened.

The first publicly owned museum in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 was the Amerbach-Cabinet in Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

, originally a private collection sold to the city in 1661 and public since 1671 (now Kunstmuseum Basel
Kunstmuseum Basel
The Kunstmuseum Basel houses the largest and most significant public art collection in Switzerland, and is listed as a heritage site of national significance. Its lineage extends back to the Amerbach Cabinet purchased by the city of Basel in 1661, which made it the first municipally owned museum...

). The Ashmolean Museum
Ashmolean Museum
The Ashmolean Museum on Beaumont Street, Oxford, England, is the world's first university museum...

 in Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 opened on 24 May 1683 as the world's first university art museum. Its first building was built in 1678–1683 to house the cabinet of curiosities
Cabinet of curiosities
A cabinet of curiosities was an encyclopedic collection in Renaissance Europe of types of objects whose categorical boundaries were yet to be defined. They were also known by various names such as Cabinet of Wonder, and in German Kunstkammer or Wunderkammer...

 Elias Ashmole
Elias Ashmole
Elias Ashmole was a celebrated English antiquary, politician, officer of arms, astrologer and student of alchemy. Ashmole supported the royalist side during the English Civil War, and at the restoration of Charles II he was rewarded with several lucrative offices.Ashmole was an antiquary with a...

 gave Oxford University in 1677. The Uffizi
Uffizi
The Uffizi Gallery , is a museum in Florence, Italy. It is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world.-History:...

 Gallery in Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 was initially conceived as a palace for the offices of Florentian magistrates (hence the name), it later evolved into a display place for many of the paintings and sculpture collected by the Medici family or commissioned by them. After the house of Medici was extinguished, the art treasures remained in Florence, forming one of the first modern museums. The gallery had been open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century, and in 1765 it was officially opened to the public. Another early public museum was the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

 in London, which opened to the public in 1759. It was a "universal museum" with very varied collections covering art, applied art, archaeology, anthropology, history, and science, and a library. The science collections, library, paintings and modern sculpture have since been found separate homes, leaving history, archaeology, non-European and pre-Renaissance art, and prints and drawings.

The specialised art museum is considered a fairly modern invention
Invention
An invention is a novel composition, device, or process. An invention may be derived from a pre-existing model or idea, or it could be independently conceived, in which case it may be a radical breakthrough. In addition, there is cultural invention, which is an innovative set of useful social...

, the first being the Hermitage
Hermitage Museum
The State Hermitage is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. One of the largest and oldest museums of the world, it was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and has been opened to the public since 1852. Its collections, of which only a small part is on permanent display,...

 in Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

 which was established in 1764.

The Louvre
Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 was established in 1793, soon after the French Revolution when the royal treasures were declared for the people. The Czartoryski Museum
Czartoryski Museum
The Czartoryski Museum and Library is a museum located in Kraków, Poland, founded in Puławy in 1796 by Princess Izabela Czartoryska. The Puławy collections were partly destroyed after the November uprising of 1830–1831 and the subsequent confiscation of the Czartoryskis' property by the Russians...

 in Kraków
Kraków
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

 was established in 1796 by Princess Izabela Czartoryska. This showed the beginnings of removing art collections from the private domain of aristocracy and the wealthy into the public sphere, where they were seen as sites for educating the masses in taste and cultural refinement.

Encyclopedic museums

Encyclopedic museums are large, mostly national, institutions that offer visitors a plethora of information on a variety of subjects that tell both local and global stories. "With 3% of the world's population, or nearly 200 million people, live outside the country of their birth, encyclopedic museums play an especially important role in the building of civil society. They encourage curiosity about the world." James Cuno, President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust, along with Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, are two of the most outspoken museum professionals who support encyclopedic museums. Encyclopedic museums have advantages; however, some scholars and archaeologists argue against encyclopedic museums because they remove cultural objects from their original cultural setting, losing their context.

History museums

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