In this article we will discuss about the meaning and functions of museum.
Meaning of Museum:
The word museum comes from the Greek word mouseion. In ancient Greece the mousein was the temple of the Muses, the goddesses of arts and sciences. Museum is an institution where artistic and educational materials are exhibited to the public. The materials available for observation and study are called a collection.
A collection may include scientific specimens, works of art and exhibits and information on history or technology. There are five main kinds of museums namely art museums, history museums, applied science museums, natural science museums and general museums.
Functions of Museums:
Museums perform the following functions:
1. Acquisition of Materials:
Every new object that a museum adds to its collection is called an acquisition. Museums acquire objects in several ways, of which field collection is one of the most useful. The scientists and technicians go outside to gather specimens and data on particular subjects which are within the scope of the museum.
2. Recording of Materials:
Each acquisition is listed carefully by specialist staff. As soon as objects are received, the data, the source, the method of acquisition and other available information are entered in the record register.
3. Preservation of Materials:
The primary purpose of museums is to preserve selected objects. Curators (persons in-charge of museums) know that no specimens will last forever. What museums undertake to do is to prolong the life time of the objects.
Preservation in a museum consists of two steps:
(i) Specimens must be put into a condition that checks deterioration,
(ii) The specimens must be protected.
One important use of museum is to extract as much knowledge as possible from the specimens. Many museums publish scholarly journals, series of papers and books to make available the results of research on their collection.
5. Exhibition of Materials:
Various members of the museum staff prepare the acquisitions for exhibition. The specimens selected for exhibition are put on view in numerous ways. The choice of approach and technique depends largely on the purpose of exhibit.
A number of universities conduct some courses in certain subjects at museums in order to take advantage of the collection. Thus museums help in spreading education.