Definition of museum noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//mjuˈziːəm//
; NAmE NAmE//mjuˈziːəm//
Historic buildings
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a building in which objects of artistic, cultural, historical or scientific interest are kept and shown to the public a museum of modern art a science museum See related entries: Historic buildings Word Originearly 17th cent. (denoting a university building, specifically one erected at Alexandria by Ptolemy Soter): via Latin from Greek mouseion ‘seat of the Muses’, based on mousa ‘muse’. CulturemuseumsMany people have a hobby that involves collecting things, e.g. stamps, postcards or antiques. In the 18th and 19th centuries wealthy people travelled and collected plants, animal skins, historical objects and works of art. They kept their collection at home until it got too big or until they died, and then it was given to a museum. The 80 000 objects collected by Sir Hans Sloane, for example, formed the core collection of the British Museum which opened in 1759.The parts of a museum open to the public are called galleries or rooms. Often, only a small proportion of a museum's collection is on display. Most of it is stored away or used for research. A person in charge of a department of a museum is called a keeper. Museum staff involved in the care and conservation of items are sometimes called curators.Many museums are lively places and they attract a lot of visitors. As well as looking at exhibits, visitors can play with computer simulations and imagine themselves living at a different time in history or walking through a rainforest (= a thick, wet tropical forest). At the Jorvik Centre in York, the city's Viking settlement is recreated, and people experience the sights, sounds and smells of the old town. Historical accuracy is important but so also is entertainment. Museums must compete for people's leisure time and money with other amusements. Most museums also welcome school groups and arrange special activities for children.In Britain, the largest museums are the British Museum, the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Museums outside London also cover every subject and period. Homes of famous people sometimes become museums, such as the house where Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon.The first public museum in the US was the Charlestown Museum in South Carolina, founded in 1773. The largest is the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, a group of 14 museums. The most popular of these is the National Air and Space Museum. Some US museums are art museums. Many describe a period of history. In Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for example, a museum explains the Civil War and gives details of the Battle of Gettysburg. Halls of Fame are museums that honour people who have been outstanding in a certain field, e.g. baseball or rock music.National museums receive money from the government but not enough to cover their costs. Museums usually have a shop selling books, postcards and gifts, and often a cafe. Their profits help to fund the museum. Some museums have the support of a commercial sponsor. In small museums only a few people have paid jobs, and the rest are volunteers, called docents in the US, who lead tours and answer visitors' questions. Cultureart galleries and museums of artIn Britain, works of art are displayed in art galleries and, especially outside London, in museums. Shops that sell paintings are also called galleries. In the US public art collections are displayed in art museums, and a gallery is a place where people go to buy works of art.Many galleries and museums in Britain and the US receive limited financial support from national or local government. Other money is raised through admission fees, although admission to many British museums is free, and the sale of postcards, calendars and other gifts. Some galleries obtain money through sponsorship. Many works of art are expensive and galleries can rarely buy them without organizing a public appeal or, in Britain, asking for money fromthe Art Fund.Visiting an art gallery is a popular leisure activity. Galleries and museums are friendlier places than they used to be. Many try to encourage children's interest in art by arranging school visits and many people make their first trip to an art museum with their school class.The most popular galleries in Britain, all in London, are the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern. The Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition of paintings sent in by the general public also receives a lot of visitors. Sculpture attracts less attention, and though the names of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth are known to many people, few could describe any of their works. Well-known galleries outside London include the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh and the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.Important art museums in the US include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum, all in New York, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Most US cities and many smaller towns have art museums.Galleries sometimes mount exhibitions of the paintings or art works of one artist, that are brought together from all over the world. People are prepared to queue for a long time to see them. Many people admire old masters, famous works by great artists of the past, but have little interest in modern art. New works receive publicity in the media only when they are unusual or likely to shock people. Galleries and museums try to encourage a more positive attitude to modern art but many people remain doubtful. There is usually controversy about the winners of the Turner PrizeSome exhibitions bring together all kinds of art, not only paintings, from a particular time or country so that people can learn about it. Exhibitions on subjects such as the Aztecs, art nouveau or the art of Turkey attract large crowds.Extra examples All the planes are museum pieces. Although the mill is no longer in commercial use, it is maintained as a working museum. He founded a museum of modern art in his home town. Los Angeles County Museum of Art The first painting acquired by the museum was by Hopper. The museum houses a fine collection of textiles. The museum is housed in a converted church. The website’s print gallery is a virtual museum. There’s a gift shop in the museum. a museum devoted to children’s toys a museum devoted to railway memorabilia an exhibition of Chinese ceramics at the Ashmolean Museum an open-air museum of farming and the countryside one of the world’s great museums the Museum of Modern Art
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: museum