Museums: Different Types and Their Purposes
Today is World Museum Day. Here at Gooroo, we are great believers in education for all. Most museums around the country, and especially the world, offer free or discounted admission rates to children and families. But, what are the other reasons for these institutions? In today’s blog, we’ll answer this question. Then, show the different types of collections you can see!
What is a Museum?
Museums are institutions that care for a collections of artefacts or other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance. Put on display to the public, these items are organised into “exhibitions” that are either permanent or temporary. These institutions have a purpose or goal, it can be:
- helping researchers uncover the secrets of their collections
- educating the general public about the importance of the collections
More often than not, this goal shifts more to serving the general public.
Acting first as private collections for the wealthy, the conserving of artefacts and objects was used as social currency by the male elite. While some of the oldest museums were established in the Italian Renaissance, a majority of institutions came about in the 18th century.
- The oldest public collection of art in the world is the Capitoline. Of which Pope Sixtus IV donated a group of important sculptures in 1471. Also started by a Pope, the second oldest (The Vatican) dates back to 1506.
- In the United Kingdom, the Royal Armouries in the Tower of London has displayed weapons since 1592.
- Other older institutions often exist within historical buildings or important historical sites.
The Largest and Most Visited
Making up the more than 55,000 institutions in 202 countries are:
- The Louvre in Paris
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
- The National Museum of China in Beijing
- The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.
- The British Museum in London
- The National Gallery in London
- The Vatican Museums in Vatican City.
Different Types and Their Purposes
While some institutions can focus on many different areas, often times institutions centre around one subject, location, people, or time period. Also, organising items into groups by type is common. This can include:
- Farms, Architecture, Archaeology, Art, or Cars
- Children’s, Community, or Design
- Historical Houses or Sties
- Marginalised People, Living History, Maritime, Medical, or Military and War
- Natural History, Science, Virtual or Zoos and Gardens
What’s more, the collections on display will either be permanent fixtures or a rotation of temporary special exhibitions. Additionally, organising the layout and narrative of the institution can either be done in a way where the story unfolds in a linear manner. Or, where the patrons create their own journey through the halls.
Over the last couple of decades, a growing movement for the decolonisation of museums within the UK has arisen. It argues that the obtainment and subsequent narrative of the items of certain collections is unethical, stereotypical, and promoting a one-sided story. Items were taken from the countries they were from without the consent of the indigenous people.
Recommended for Kids
- The Strong National Museum of Play • Rochester, NY
- Please Touch • Philadelphia, PA
- Discovery Center • Rockford, IL
- Minnesota Children’s • Saint Paul, MN
- Kidspace Children’s • Pasadena, CA