Museum History 101

museum history

Museum history is the study of the history of museums and their collection. It traces its development from the early days of collecting to the present. It covers the collection of artifacts and their economic role. The early museum history can be traced back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He made a journey to the island of Lesbos in the 340s BCE with his disciple Theophrastus, where he studied botanical specimens and developed the principles of systematic collection and empirical methodology. In Athens, he also had his philosophical school, which contained a mouseion and a library.

Artifacts collected by private collectors

Museums often display a small portion of their collections at a time. This is because the exhibits cost money and there is a limited amount of public funding. Therefore, it is important for museum staff to consider the provenance of artifacts they receive. However, if you’re upset that a museum has no artifacts you’re interested in, you can make your complaint to your local government. You may also request more public funding for museums.

Many museums started as private collections of wealthy individuals or families. These collections often contained rare artifacts and curious objects. These private collections were often accessible only to the owner, but some public museums have been built around them. For example, the British Museum was founded in 1753 and opened to the public in 1759, thanks to the personal collection of Sir Isaac Sloan. In Italy, the Uffizi Gallery opened its doors in 1765.

Institutionalized collection

While collections must remain relevant throughout history, they may also face threats of endangerment. This may lead to the destruction, loss, or use up of objects to ensure their preservation. In the field of natural history, countless specimens have been lost, destroyed, or replaced in the interest of teaching and research.

Collections are products of particular time and cultures, and many objects are not unique to a single place or time. These objects are often embedded in complex social and political histories. This makes them subject to ethical questions. In some cases, questionable provenances and exploitation of objects may call for actions to address past injustices and protect future generations.

Specialized collections

There are many types of museum history collections. These include manuscripts, maps, printed books, photographs, prints, periodicals, and original works of art. Many of these collections are also available online. In addition to traditional collections, Special Collections also offer digitized photography, memorabilia, and rare book illustrations.

The storage requirements of different objects vary greatly, and museums often have specialized storage rooms. For example, framed paintings may be stored in racks, while unframed works of art are placed in large drawers. In addition, some objects have very specific storage requirements, such as those from undersea archaeological sites. Some rare objects must be stored in an oxygen-free environment.

Economic role of museums

Museums are not self-sustaining and must rely on public contributions and grants. However, they do generate positive externalities in the production and consumption of goods and services. This creates value for society, but they are not compensated for this value. The question is, how do museums balance these two needs?

Many museums use events to generate funds and attract new visitors. They also use local contractors to make the space accessible to the public. They also hire interns in the community to help them with the digitization of collections. Thus, museums are an important cultural and economic asset.

Impact of museums on society

The American Alliance of Museums recently released a report on the economic impact of museums in the U.S. In the study, the organization partnered with Oxford Economics to measure the direct and indirect impact of museums on the economy. According to the study, museums contributed over $50 billion to the national economy in 2016, providing nearly 1.3 million jobs. In addition to direct contributions, museums provide economic benefits through indirect spending by museum visitors.

The study also examined the relationship between museums and community health and school effectiveness, though it acknowledged the limitations of the data and cautioned that more research is needed. However, the results showed that museums are positively related to economic well-being, particularly in areas such as health and education.