A museum is a building where people go to see ancient things. They also learn about those things, or at least try to. Despite this seeming simplicity, there is much more to museums than just buildings full of stuff. This is why museums have curators – who care for the objects, and arrange them for display. Museums often have departments for research, education and conservation. They may also have a gift shop. They are usually open to the public and charge an admission fee. Some museums are government run, while others are privately owned or family museums.
Many museums have a large collection of art works. These are called art galleries or museums of fine arts. They are primarily galleries that show paintings, illustrations and sculptures. They also have collections of drawings and prints, as well as furniture, jewelry and other decorative art. Some museums also have collections of applied art such as ceramics, metalwork and book art.
The new definition of museum focuses on the role of museums as institutions that hold artifacts in trust for society. It stresses the importance of diversity, and encourages museums to collaborate with communities to share their artifacts and stories. It is important that museums communicate the value of their collections to the general public, and work with community partners to engage and empower them to preserve and protect cultural heritage.
Museums must be places where everyone feels welcome and at home, and where they can take a risk in engaging with the past to make it relevant to the present. They must be places where people can explore, debate and challenge ideas – whether these are about the role of museums, or how they can help to address current global challenges.
Having a clear and shared understanding of the purpose of museums is essential for their survival. Having such a clear purpose will enable them to respond positively to changing societies, and will provide them with a solid platform for establishing their own identity. The postponement of the vote on the new definition of museum at last week’s ICOM conference in Kyoto, Japan, demonstrates how contentious this discussion has been.
As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, museums are more important than ever as sites of knowledge, culture and dialogue. Their reputation for authenticity and commitment to serving their audiences sets them apart from many of today’s corporate brands. In fact, CxOs should look to museums for inspiration, as they are leading the way in how businesses can create a more human and connected experience for their customers.