There are three main phases of museum ideology.

Before 1850:

There was an emphasis on the entertainment value of an object - the strangeness or rarity that gave the viewer a thrill. A concentration of curiosities, relics,rarities, and 'collectors' items'. The purpose of these mostly private collections was to collect and exhibit unique and wonderful objects to create an emotional response in the viewer. Here's an example of something pretty weird: Peter the Great (1672-1725), Emperor of Russia, was a great collector. One of the things he used to collect was human teeth. And the way he collected them was to just select somebody, and extract their teeth himself! He then labelled the teeth, and kept them all individually in small boxes.

1850 to 1970's:

This was the start of the educational museum, where there was a systematic treatment of art, and a strong interest in Natural science, including anthropology, science and technology. Many museums were devoted to research. Collections were of important objects deemed useful for their educational and/or aesthetic value. Exhibits within museums were object oriented. Think of those old museums where neatly labelled rows of objects (such as dead beetles, pottery shards and old scientific instruments) were displayed in glass and wood cabinets.

1970's onward:

Exhibits are idea oriented. Objects are used to tell a story, either about the development and use of a range of objects, or about some aspect of history. Interpretations of the objects are imposed on the viewer, especially with interactive exhibits. (unique and wonderful technology used to create an emotional response in the viewer). Many museums still carry out research, but this aspect of their role is not at the forefront. With funding worldwide being harder to gain, this new public interface of museums is becoming vital to their continued existence.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.