Museum History – The Origins of Museums

Museums are a kind of time machine that let us take a glimpse into the past. They are places where art and objects from the present and the past come together, and they reveal how humans have evolved and interacted with the world around them throughout history. We can see how objects that many people look at as mundane today may become exhibits in museums far in the future.

The genesis of museums reflects the complexity and richness of human history. They have varied in form, content and function but are bound by an underlying impulse to collect and share the material evidence of our human existence with others. Museums have been founded for many different reasons: as recreation facilities, scholarly venues or educational resources; to contribute to the economy of local areas in which they are situated; to promote civic pride and nationalistic endeavors; or even to transmit overtly ideological concepts.

Despite this wide range of motivations, most museums are founded on similar principles. They begin with an innate desire to collect and share the objects of our lives, a desire that stems back at least as far as we can trace our history.

This first book in the series traces the evolution of museums from their origins as collections of grave goods to the Alexandrian temples of the Muses, through Renaissance cabinets of curiosities and to the modern variety of institutions worldwide. The authors use a range of methods to explore the development of museums, including a study of architecture, an examination of changing attitudes towards museums and how they are run, as well as interviews with directors of museums worldwide.

Although it was written in the 1980s, the first edition of this book is still relevant today. It examines the way museums are managed, highlighting issues such as restitution, funding and representation of marginalised perspectives in the arts. It also examines the rise of new types of museums, such as open-air museums and museums dedicated to popular culture.

While a number of books have been written on museums, this one was the first to develop the idea that museums are inherently political institutions that reflect and shape their societies. It has influenced subsequent books on museum theory, and is an important work in the field of cultural history.

In this fascinating book, the author uses a mixture of autobiography, an analysis of what makes museums tick and an exploration of how they change to create a fascinating read on the history of museums. It is a great example of the way that museum studies have developed as an academic discipline. It is often overlooked that museums are a product of the very societies that they are trying to serve. It is an important text to read to gain a greater appreciation for how museums and museum leaders have been shaped by their own societies and that this has shaped the museums that they are today.