Matagorda County Museum Our Blog What Is a Museum?

What Is a Museum?


A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits both tangible and intangible heritage for the purposes of education, enjoyment and inspiration. It also encourages and supports diversity and sustainability and is governed by a code of ethics.

Most people visit museums at some point in their lives, often as children on school trips or with family. These experiences shape their feelings about museums later in life. Some people dislike museums because they are hushed halls with a musty smell, while others find them an exciting place to learn about history or science. There are many reasons for this polarization of attitudes towards museums. Some of them are cultural and some are more personal.

One of the main factors that influences whether someone likes or dislikes museums is how they are managed and run. The museum industry is complex and diverse, spanning all fields of knowledge. This makes it hard to define what a museum is. Some museums, such as the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles or the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, have very few artifacts but still call themselves museums because they tell a story or share information in an engaging way. Other museums, such as the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., use many artifacts to make their stories as powerful as possible.

The definition of a museum has been a hotly debated issue within the museum community. The International Council of Museums (Icom) has been trying to reach a consensus on a new definition for years, but has not yet reached a resolution. Icom Define, the committee that oversees the museum definition process, is now working to create new proposals for the General Assembly to consider.

Museums are big businesses, employing countless employees and relying on the support of local communities and businesses to keep their doors open. They also require a lot of resources to run, from staff salaries and benefits to printing services, video surveillance equipment and dino glue. It takes a lot of work to run America’s 17,500 museums and they are inextricably woven into the fabric of American life.

While some may see museums as boring or useless, they are a critical part of our culture and society. They help us connect to our past and each other in a meaningful way that material goods cannot. Museums offer an opportunity to experience the world in ways that can enrich our lives and give us perspective that can only be gained by understanding its diverse, ever-changing histories. We should be proud that the United States has so many museums and that they are all working hard to serve their communities. They need our support now more than ever. So, the next time you go to a museum, take the time to enjoy it. You might just find that you love it. And if you don’t, at least you can say that you tried!