The term museum is derived from Latin and is a derivative of the Greek word for shrine. Muses are the goddesses of the arts and sciences, and museums were often dedicated to their worship. While the modern formal museum dates to the eighteenth century, collections of museum-like objects date back thousands of years. Princess Ennigaldi, the daughter of King Nabonidus, was the first known person to curate Mesopotamian artifacts.
The earliest museums were private collections of wealthy individuals or families, which served as a wonder room to show off their unique objects. The British Museum was founded in 1753 and opened to the public in 1759. The collection was initially drawn from Sir Isaac Sloan’s personal collection. The Uffizi Gallery, in Florence, was open to visitors by request since the sixteenth century. It was only in the eighteenth century that museums gained a national status.
The Museum’s location also has its share of controversy. Opponents of the museum wanted it in the city center, close to public buildings and other museums. However, the Building Commission chose the Blue Ridge Road location, as it was accessible to the interstate and had room for expansion. The site had previously been the home of the Polk Youth Prison, which housed juvenile offenders. The museum moved there in the late eighties and the smokestack remains.
Museums can be divided into different types of galleries. Art galleries, for example, often display pictures of actual people. The concept of a portrait gallery dates back to the 1620s in France, where Paul Ardier curated an exhibition of kings and statesmen. Later developments led to the creation of a national portrait gallery. In addition to their historical significance, paintings of people often form a key component in other types of museum history.
The first art museum opened in May 1886 and attracted almost 5,000 people on opening day. Amor Smith, Jr., the man who founded the museum, referred to the new structure as a gift of the people and acknowledged the community’s role in its establishment. The museum was open Monday through Saturday, charging adults twenty-five cents and children fifteen cents. In July 1886, it opened on Sundays. The museum has since grown into one of the city’s oldest art museums.
In July 1894, Marshall Field, a wealthy businessman in Chicago, suggested the creation of a museum to accompany the exposition. Marshall Field helped finance the project and later donated the museum’s land. Marshall Field was a great supporter of Chicago’s cultural and educational facilities. Aside from the museum’s collection, its history is filled with noteworthy moments. Listed below are a few highlights of its history:
In recent years, museums have become economic drivers for some cities. They have played an important role in revitalizing post-industrial cities. A good example of a museum fulfilling an economic role is the Guggenheim Bilbao, built in Bilbao, Spain, by the Basque regional government. It cost $100 million to build, and was controversial for its high price tag. Nonetheless, it has paid off financially for Bilbao. According to its annual statistics, it attracted more than 1.1 million visitors.