|Museums are places where collections are preserved and displayed. Visiting a museum is a terrific opportunity to learn more about art, science, technology, industry and our favorite hobbies and collectibles. Many museums offer educational programs, newsletters, libraries and guided tours to help visitors have a better understanding of the collections. Museum exhibits teach us all about the world we live in. We may not be able to travel the world in search of treasures for our own collections. When we visit a museum we can enjoy collectibles and other objects which have been gathered from every part of the world. |
How did museums start? The word "museum" comes from the Greek word mouseion, which means "temple of the Muses." The Muses were goddesses of the arts whose lives were removed from the cares of everyday life. One of the first mouseion's was founded in Alexandria, Egypt in the 3rd century B.C. Every sort of information which was of interest to scholars was collected. Scholars lived and did their research there. On display were objects of art, instruments used in astronomy and surgery, elephant tusks and the hides of unusual animals. The Museum of Alexandria would today be known as a museum for scientific research.
In the Middle Ages, cathedral treasuries and monasteries stored collections of ornamented objects such as cups and goblets which were used during the celebration of mass and book covers and treasures which were relics of saints or martyrs. The public could only visit during special holy days or for the feast day of the patron saint of the church.
It was during the Renaissance that princes and noble families in Europe took a renewed interest in art and history. Many treasures were collected; objects made of gold, silver and other precious metals. Curiosities and objects from faraway places were collected. Wealthy families took great pride in collecting beautiful possessions. Private collections could be found all across Europe. From Denmark to Italy these private museos were visited by scholars, artists and other important people who were traveling the continent. Some of these same treasures can still be seen in the galleries of museums today.
It wasn't until the 19th century that buildings were specifically designed as museums. Before that time, churches, monasteries, palaces, or state buildings that no longer served as their original purpose were used as museums. One of the first buildings in Europe planned as a museum was the Altes (OLD) Museum in Berlin, Germany. It was built in 1830.
The first children's museum was organized by the Brooklyn Museum in New York in 1899. Today hundreds of museums designed especially for children can be found all around the world. Many have programs where children can make their own models and crafts, touch artifacts or dinosaur bones.
Some museums are devoted especially to hobbies and collectibles. All over the world hobbyists share their treasures and collections. The Internet is a convenient way to travel the world and visit these special collections from across the globe.
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