10760 words 44 pages
Museum, institution dedicated to helping people understand and appreciate the natural world, the history of civilizations, and the record of humanity’s artistic, scientific, and technological achievements. Museums collect objects of scientific, aesthetic, or historical importance; care for them; and study, interpret, and exhibit them for the purposes of public education and the advancement of knowledge. There are museums in almost every major city in the world and in many smaller communities as well.
Museums offer many benefits to their visitors, their communities, and society as a whole. As educational institutions, they offer unparalleled opportunities for self-directed learning and exploration by people of diverse ages,
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Created in the 8th century, it may be the oldest museum in the world.
The major types of museums are art, history, natural history, and science. In certain museums, these disciplines may be combined. Within these categories there are also many specialized museums emphasizing particular topics or types of collections, such as museums of local history, music, the cultural heritage of native peoples, or maritime history.
In the United States, there are approximately 8,300 museums of all types, with history museums being the most common type. Canada has about 1,400 museums. In the late 1990s there were, annually, more than 800 million visits to U.S. museums and more than 25 million visits to Canadian museums.
The following sections describe the different types of museums and highlight major museums of these types in the United States and Canada. For information on museums in other countries, see the Museums of the World section of this article.
Art Museums
Art museums reflect artistic accomplishment, both historic and contemporary. Through exhibitions and educational programs, art museums enhance visitors’ understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of art. They contain many kinds of artworks, including paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, ceramics and glass, metalwork, and furniture. Art museums represent diverse cultural traditions from all parts of the world. One collection


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