A museum is a place to store and display cultural artefacts. They are also places where people can learn about different cultures and history. They can be open to the public or have a private admission fee, depending on the type of museum.
They can be part of a city or country’s culture, or serve as an economic development tool in the case of postindustrial cities. They can also be used to create a sense of community or help people understand the history of a specific region.
There are many types of museums, ranging from large public institutions to smaller local ones. They often have a permanent collection, but can also exhibit temporary exhibitions. The type of objects collected can vary widely, from natural or historical items to works of art.
Most large museums are run by a director and a staff of curators who work to care for the objects and to arrange them for display. They are usually supervised by an executive board or committee that sets policies and rules for the museum, such as a collections policy and ethics code.
These museums can be governmental, non-profit or privately owned and family-run. Some are dedicated to particular scientific subjects, such as a museum of natural history. Others are more focused on art or history, such as an art museum.
They can also be specialized in certain areas of study, such as an art museum that focuses on the paintings of Leonardo da Vinci or an ethnographic museum that displays the artifacts of a particular group of people.
In addition to their traditional functions, museums have begun to respond to social issues such as climate change and the Anthropocene through exhibitions, research and conservation efforts. These projects often include new technologies and innovations such as augmented reality (AR) apps that allow visitors to interact with museum collections.
The new ICOM definition emphasizes that museums “collect” rather than “acquire.” A museum collects artifacts, meaning they gather them for the purpose of interpreting and sharing them with diverse communities. This emphasis on collecting is a critical step toward the preservation of humanity’s history.
This definition pushes museums to reconsider their interpretation practices, especially when it comes to the collections they hold and how they communicate about them. It also urges museums to engage with diverse perspectives, such as those of indigenous peoples.
They also need to make sure their buildings and the objects they hold are safe. That means they have to make sure the things they display are not dangerous to their visitors or the museum itself.
Another important aspect of the new ICOM definition is that it asks museums to think about the communities they serve. Museums are a civic infrastructure, alongside libraries, hospitals and schools. They are important to communities, and it’s up to those communities to decide whether they want to keep the institution running or not.
This is a great idea, but the problem is that the wording is too broad and the new ICOM definition doesn’t distinguish between different types of museums. It could just as easily say, “An institution that contains clowns on a Sunday.” That kind of stuff has no legal status in Australia.