The Definition of a Museum

A museum is a repository of objects and artifacts of various types and periods that are historically important. They preserve the past in an orderly manner. In most cases, it is the interpretation of the past that gives the museum its interpretive power. Most public museums also make these objects available for public view through temporary or permanent exhibits that can be either permanent or temporary. A great majority of the world’s museums are in buildings that once belonged to wealthy individuals or elite families.


A wide variety of museums can be categorized as historical institutions, open-air museums, scientific museums, and libraries. These museums preserve a part or all of the history of the region in which they are located. A great number of these museums are found in old palaces, churches, royal mansions, and museums.

Historical museums deal with the past period that can be considered significant to the history and culture of the region in which they are located. They exhibit artifacts and documents from this period that reflect the lifestyle of that time and convey a story of the people who lived during that time. Examples of such museums include art museums, palaces, royal mansions, and nature museums. Open-air museums, on the other hand, deal with the wide range of the natural world and the significance that such places have for human beings.

Some examples of these types of museums include zoological gardens, aquariums, botanical gardens, and collections of cultural objects. zoological gardens preserve the flora and fauna of different areas. Aquariums allow the public to see fish and marine life in their natural habitat. Botanical and cultural collections provide information on conservation and encourage people to care for nature. These two types of institutions are extremely popular among the people in various communities.

The definition of a museum also depends on what it is intended to do. If an institution is intended to teach, then it would be a school. If it is an academic museum intended to publish research works that are comparable to those done by scholars in an academic field, then it would fall under the definition of a permanent institution of learning. A building or a structure intended to house a permanent collection of objects that are considered to be historically significant is defined as a museum as well.

The scope of the definition of museums continues to evolve with time. As time goes by, the boundaries of the museum seem to expand. Some museums are even designed to specifically exhibit collections that span the spectrum of human history. Others may focus on specific genres of art, while others may focus on a certain topic such as African-American art, or Japanese-anish art, for example. More recently, some museums have sought to combine the traditional elements of a museum into a more interactive environment by offering an on-site food institution. With each challenge that a museum will face in the coming years and decades, the definition of museums is sure to grow and define an institution for generations to come.