Among the most important public institutions in the world, a museum is a facility that has been developed to preserve, interpret, and share the material evidence of humankind. There are numerous examples of museums around the world that fulfill these roles, and some cities have even turned to museums to stimulate economic development.
A museum is defined by the International Council of Museums (ICOM). This definition places emphasis on the work that museums are able to do to benefit others. The ICOM definition process is guided by a number of steps. The first is an expression of the need for consultation. After that, the museum definition moves towards a new phase. The proposal will then be submitted to the ICOM General Conference in 2022 for a vote.
In the early days of the modern museum, large collections were built by individuals. They were often placed in temples and other ceremonial settings. These items communicated directly to the viewer. However, most museums are not able to present all of these items to the public. The British Museum, for example, only displays a small percentage of its collections.
Curators are responsible for the collection, preservation, and documentation of the museum’s artifacts. They generate voluminous data on individual works for use by scholars. They also build collections that have long-term historical value and artistic importance. Some museums are more focused on conservation than education. Other museums seek to reach a broad audience.
The concept of a museum is rooted in classical times, and it is based on the human propensity to collect and to investigate. This can be seen in the ancient Paleolithic burials, which contain evidence of human inquiry into the environment. In the 18th century, a scholarly journal called the Zeitschrift fur Museologie und Antiquitatenkunde was published in Dresden. In 1776, Emanuel Mendes da Costa referred to “museographists.”
Museums have existed for centuries. The great Museum at Alexandria, for instance, was a prototypical university, a place where scholars studied the objects in the collection. This institution was founded in the third century bce by Ptolemy I Soter. Its library was one of the largest in the world, and the museum possessed a college of scholars.
Today, museums are a vital institution that serves the general public, researchers, educators, and cultural organizations. There are thousands of museums in smaller towns and cities, and many of them make items available for public viewing. Some of them, such as the LDS Church History Museum, collect significant artifacts. These objects are displayed in a narrative framework to educate visitors about the past.
The term “museum” itself is derived from the Latin word museus, which means “seat of the Muses.” This word was first used in philosophical discussion in Roman times. The word was then revived in the 15th century, when Lorenzo de’ Medici’s collection in Florence was described as a “museum.”
As a result, a museum is an institution that cares for and shares important artifacts. It is also a recreational and educational resource. Some museums promote nationalistic endeavors, and some aim to enhance the quality of life in a local community.