Matagorda County Museum Our Blog What Is a Museum?

What Is a Museum?



A museum is a place that houses artifacts from different cultures that represent the history of humankind. These artifacts are displayed to the public for educational purposes. Besides being an interesting place to visit, museums have other important functions such as research, preservation and conservation. These tasks are usually accomplished by a staff that is hired by the museum to do those jobs.

There are many different types of museums, which all have a different purpose and serve a diverse audience. Some are large and focus on several categories such as art, history or natural science. Others are smaller and may specialize in only one category. For example, a museum of natural history may be focused on the study of animals or plants, while a museum of modern art might only show paintings.

Originally, the word “museum” was associated with academia and the preservation of rare items. Over time, though, the importance of educating the public has become a central aspect of museums. Several major professional organizations offer definitions for what makes up a museum, but the most common themes include public good and the care, preservation and interpretation of collections.

Museums can be hushed halls that give off a musty smell or noisy centers filled with children running hither and thither. They can have revered words of art or collections of living insects. They can organize expeditions to seek out new artifacts or rely on donations to acquire them. They can even sponsor traveling exhibits of objects from their collections if they do not have enough space to display them all in their own building.

The content of a museum is limited only by the goals it sets for itself. These goals are often stated in the museum’s charter or bylaws, and they can be lofty, such as “to provide a broad range of educational services in the fields of culture, history and science.” Some museums also restrict their content to a specific field of interest, such as art or local history.

Many museums also collaborate to sponsor joint, or traveling, exhibits on a particular subject when they do not have the resources to do it themselves. They do this to reach a larger audience and expand their exposure. In addition, they are sometimes able to get grants to help with the cost of transportation or other expenses.

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) has recently voted to adopt a new definition of museum. The new definition includes for the first time phrases such as inclusion, accessibility and sustainability. This change is a result of the largest outreach project in ICOM’s history. Representatives from 126 of ICOM’s National Committees and a wide range of other stakeholders were involved in this process. It took place over an 18-month period and four distinct rounds of consultation. The resulting definition was approved at ICOM’s Extraordinary General Assembly in Prague.