What Is a Museum?


A museum (/mjuzim/ mew-ZEE-@m; plural museums or, rarely, musea) is an institution that collects and cares for objects of scientific, artistic, or historical significance, and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Museums are located throughout the world and often have special programs and activities for particular audiences, such as children, adults, or professionals.

The word museum is derived from the Greek mouseion, which meant “seat of the Muses,” and was associated with places of philosophical discussion and contemplation. It was subsequently used to describe institutions for studying and collecting arts and cultural objects, especially the Library at Alexandria, Egypt, founded in the third century BCE.

In the modern era, the term is often used to refer to a collection of items related to a specific topic or time period. These collections are kept and preserved in order to educate and provide insight into the world around us, for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

Many different types of museums exist, and they all celebrate a wide range of human culture. Some specialize in a particular region, while others focus on more general themes.

One of the most common forms of museums is the history museum, which covers a variety of topics from ancient cultures to contemporary life. It typically contains a collection of artifacts and documents, including photographs, paintings, and archaeological materials.

Another common type of museum is the natural science museum, which displays specimens and other objects from nature. These museums are often found in larger cities, but smaller ones can also be found in local communities.

A museum’s staff is made up of people who work in a variety of different roles, depending on the size of the institution. A director and board of trustees oversee the operation of the museum, while the rest of the staff carries out specific duties. These staff members can include curators, archivists, conservators, educators, researchers, historians, technicians, and security personnel.

Curators are responsible for presenting exhibitions and making decisions about the selection of items for display. They are also responsible for maintaining the collection and ensuring that it is safe, clean, and secure.

In addition to curatorial positions, there are a number of other jobs at museums, such as building operations, public programming, research, security, archivists, and librarians. These positions are often filled by full-time employees and interns, though some may be part-time or work in contract positions.

The American Association of Museums has a salary survey, which is a good resource for anyone interested in finding out about the average pay for a museum job. The survey breaks down the data by region and budget, so it’s a good place to start if you’re trying to figure out what sort of pay is normal for a museum.

The International Council of Museums is currently preparing to vote on its new definition of a museum, which asks museums to cede authority to their communities by shifting from transmitting expert knowledge to fostering dialogue and connection. While this may seem like a bold move for a professional organization, it represents an important step forward in bringing museums into the 21st century.