A museum is a place where objects with great value are preserved for future generations to enjoy. These objects, usually in the form of artifacts, tell us about the world we live in and human history. They also offer a variety of experiences for visitors to enjoy, from art exhibits to educational resources.
Museums may also be found in communities and provide a sense of belonging. In some cases, they serve as economic development outlets. This is especially true in cities, where museums can bring in tourism, and help revitalize a postindustrial area. The new definition of a museum includes several important aspects, such as accessibility, sustainability, and inclusivity.
A museum has a long history, with its origins dating back to ancient Greece. Traditionally, a museum was a repository of artifacts, and sometimes was a place for religious worship. Eventually, the word “museum” was used in a philosophical context. However, it wasn’t until the 15th century that the term “museum” regained its prominence. It was then that Lorenzo de’ Medici’s collection at Florence was considered to be a museum.
A museum is a scholarly institution, with a professional staff that arranges exhibits and displays. Usually, a director is in charge of a museum. Some larger institutions have education departments. Most of these departments conduct research, and some are dedicated to certain geographic areas.
Museums can be local or large. The American Alliance of Museums estimates that US museums spend $2 billion on educational activities annually. Those that offer a wide range of services are known as general museums. General museums are widespread in North and South America, and also in India and Australia. Often, these institutions are founded on a desire to promote knowledge about their region or civic pride.
A museum is also a good place to learn about the history of your community, and can help foster civic pride. In addition to being a repository of valuable artifacts, museums can promote public education, and help enhance habitat preservation. For this reason, they may be an excellent way to educate children about your town.
One of the first major development sites for museums was Larsa in Mesopotamia. Although archaeological records don’t support the traditional concept of a museum, a number of sites are now recognized as landmarks in the history of civilizations.
The old fashioned museum was a collection of works of art housed in temples and palaces. Among the items housed in these structures were votive offerings, or objects of art.
The new era of a museum includes more sophisticated and comprehensive ways of displaying and preserving items of value. Curators now take part in the preparation of data banks, and some museums have diversified their research, including archaeology and environmental recording.
The International Council of Museums (ICOM) defines a museum as a non-profit, permanent institution that is dedicated to the study, conservation, and interpretation of primary tangible evidence. It is similar to the Museum Association’s definition of a museum, but it also focuses on the work museums do to benefit other people.