What is museum history? Why is it important? This article will tell you about museum history, its history in the United States, and its place in the global museum community. There are many different types of museums. Some focus on art, others on natural history. Whatever the case, museums are important to the world’s culture and history. They provide a way to understand the past and to understand what we do today. The purpose of museums is to educate and to make the past accessible to everyone.
Museums provide an excellent window into human history, but cannot give an all-inclusive picture. The lessons learned are priceless, especially during times of uncertainty and unrest. As tensions continue to rise between political parties, countries, and cultural groups, it is hard to ignore the lessons learned through history. Even as race, class, and gender issues become more polarized, museums are essential spaces to explore and learn from these stories. This is especially true today.
Museum history goes back thousands of years. The first museums were private collections that were open only to a select group of people. They displayed rare objects and operated as wonder rooms. The oldest museum, dated 530 BC, was found in the state of Ur in Mesopotamia. It held Mesopotamian artifacts, with clay labels in three languages. The modern museum we know today is the result of centuries of hard work and a strong desire to learn.
A museum’s name is also an important aspect of its history. Words that come from a museum have a respectable history. Emanuel Mendes da Costa, a renowned art historian, referred to people who studied museums as “museographists.” He also credited the German philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein with coining the word museology, which is used interchangeably with museography. While both terms mean the same thing, the former tends to include the theory and practice of museums.
Whether a museum exhibit is well-written and interesting is largely dependent on the historian. Holograms are great for keeping visitors entertained for a few minutes, but a well-written exhibit is more likely to hold a visitor’s attention and express a compelling interpretation of a historical subject. The museum historian’s unique body of evidence can speak much louder than the words in a book. But a beaver hat can tell a thousand words.
In addition to acquiring art, museums also collect objects. They may buy them, organize expeditions to acquire more artifacts, or receive donations from donors. Some museums have an acquisitions staff to handle this task. Regardless of size, most museums have a policy regarding the acquisition of objects. Joint exhibits between museums are common, but they usually have limited engagements and depend on additional entry fees. This practice has a long history in museum history.
The DMFA opened its doors in 1933. A new two-story wing was added to the museum in 1965. It almost doubled its exhibition space. The DMFA acquired the art of Henry Moore, whose Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 3 was purchased from the Museum. In June 1970, the Museum School closed due to overlapping services with other schools in the city. In its place, a new educational program was introduced. In addition, the museum named the first ever Lifetime Trustees.