The Definition of a Museum

A museum is typically an establishment that specializes in a specific collection of objects and artifacts of varying value. Most public museums also make these objects available for viewing via temporary exhibits which can either be permanent or portable. The term “museum” refers to both a building structure and a collection of objects. The objects may include artworks, manuscripts, historical objects, or records. In modern times, the term has become more generalized to describe any type of museum that exhibits objects on any kind of display including on a gallery wall, within a museum or on display at a fair.


Museums and institutions have been thriving for centuries, and their longevity is attributed to a number of factors including the need to support special collections, the need to demonstrate the history of a region or nation, and the desire to share knowledge with the public. There are currently hundreds of museums and educational institutions throughout the world. Many of the most famous museums around the world are located in the United States, such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Postal Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian Science Museum, and the National Air and Space Museum. Over 1.5 million people from the US visit these museums each year. Other countries with renowned museums, such as the UK and France, also have thousands of museums that showcase collections from all over the world.

Museums and institutions have a variety of roles to play in society. They allow for research studies, exhibitions, education, and information dissemination. They allow for scientific investigation, conservation, and historic documentation. Some museums house collections of documents, while others house rare or valuable artifacts. Others still exhibit objects for the public to view for any purpose.

The definition of a museum can be difficult to pinpoint because they tend to fit into many different categories. A museum can be a personal attraction, providing entertainment and relaxation for its visitors. These attractions can make the museum an attraction within the community as well. In this sense, the word museum encompasses any place or thing that is regarded as appropriate as a place for learning or entertainment, regardless of whether the institution has a charitable or educational purpose. This broad category is further subdivided into specialized groups or subject matter museums.

Within the scope of the definition of a museum, there are specialized types of museums that focus on certain fields of study, including science, history, art, technology, and the history of music. A handful of museums are even dedicated to some specific subject or theme. For example, the Museum of Modern Art in Paris focuses on modern art forms. These specialized museums tend to limit their exhibits to paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts from a certain time period or area.

As you can see, the definition of a museum has expanded to include many different items, including exhibits, collections, programs, and venues. It is not as rigid as it once was. As technology progresses, new museums may pop up or existing museums may expand to exhibit electronic or digital collections. Furthermore, some museums have been able to combine elements of the defining characteristics of several of these definitions to create a unique experience. For these reasons, museums have become very popular places to visit and many people enjoy spending time at one.