Museums are spaces where artifacts are displayed and studied. They deal with human influence on nature and their collections reflect the beauty of different cultures. There are many types of museums, from science and history museums to zoological and botanical gardens.
Early museums were private collections that were accessible to a limited group of people. The famous “Museion” of ancient Alexandria was a place dedicated to study and to the Muses. Throughout history, museums have been used for both religious and philosophical purposes. In the nineteenth century, museums were increasingly made public.
By the time the twentieth century began, museums were displaying objects of all kinds and had the goal of educating and preserving these artifacts. A number of early museums were founded by wealthy individuals, families, and institutions. These included the British Museum, which opened in 1759 and the Uffizi Gallery in 1765.
Many museums today continue to develop their collections in order to serve as an educational tool. As a result, the role of historians has become more prominent in the development of new museum galleries. For instance, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian celebrated native American cultures from all over the United States.
In the 20th century, maritime museums grew in popularity. These were typically located in historic buildings, such as the German Shipping Museum at Bremerhaven. Maritime museums are a common way to display military artifacts.
In the past 50 years, the main focus has been on exhibitions and learning. During this time, museums have been changing as a result of increased technology and a greater emphasis on interpretation. Today, museums are mainly a place for public engagement. It is important to remember that the history of museums is a complex reflection of the cultures that produce them.
When the British Library moved to its current location in 1881, there was a gap at the center of the institution. This created the opportunity for a consultation on museum definition. To this end, the Standing Committee for the Museum Definition (SCD) was formed. Their mission was to provide an open forum for all parties to voice their opinions on the topic.
ICOM (International Council of Museums) is the body that facilitates the museum definition process. It works by consulting with representatives from national and international committees. Depending on the circumstances, this consultation may be adjusted. Currently, the Standing Committee for the Museum Definition is preparing a draft definition for a vote to be presented at the next ICOM General Conference in 2022.
The museum definition process is guided by a 11-step process. Each step is based on the expressed need for consultation and on the consideration of the responses submitted. After all of the steps are complete, the Standing Committee for the Museum Definition will present the museum definition for a final vote to the General Conference.
ICOM’s museum definition process includes four rounds of consultation. The first round consisted of consultation reports and comments from committees and working groups. In the second and third phases, the museum definition process was adjusted based on the responses received.