Institution primarily for the preservation, display, and study of works of cultural interest, but increasingly characterized by a broader range of social functions. The origins of the modern museum can be traced to Classical times. It was only after the Renaissance, however, that it came to be regarded as a vital public institution. Although museum history has traditionally been surveyed in the context of the history of Collecting and of the temporary Exhibition, the substantial growth in knowledge of each topic warrants their separate treatment. Architecturally, this institutional history has been accompanied by the development of an important building type. More detailed studies of major individual museums may be found under the headings for the cities in which they are located, while national historical overviews are contained within country and regional survey articles.
Jeffrey Abt, revised by Katherine Stadtmiller
Mouseion (Gr.), the etymological root of ‘museum’, was the term for ...