From mouseion to museum
The word museum has classical origins. In its Greek form, mouseion, it meant “seat of the Muses” and designated a philosophical institution or a place of contemplation. Use of the Latin derivation, museum, appears to have been restricted in Roman times mainly to places of philosophical discussion. Thus, the great Museum at Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy I Soter early in the 3rd century bce, with its college of scholars and its famous library, was more a prototype university than an institution to preserve and interpret material aspects of one’s heritage. The word museum was revived in 15th-century Europe to describe the collection of Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence, but the term conveyed the concept of comprehensiveness rather than denoting a building. By the 17th century, museum was being used in Europe to describe collections of curiosities. Ole Worm’s collection in Copenhagen was so called, and in England visitors to John Tradescant’s collection in Lambeth (now a London borough) called the array there a museum; the catalog of this collection, published in 1656, was titled Musaeum Tradescantianum. In 1675 the collection, having become the property of Elias Ashmole, was transferred to the University of Oxford. A building was constructed to receive it, and this, soon after being opened to the public in 1683, became known as the Ashmolean Museum. Although there is some ambivalence in the use of museum in the legislation, drafted in 1753, founding the British Museum, nevertheless the idea of an institution called a museum and established to preserve and display a collection to the public was well established in the 18th century. Indeed, Denis Diderot outlined a detailed scheme for a national museum for France in the ninth volume of his Encyclopédie, published in 1765.
Use of the word museum during the 19th and most of the 20th century denoted a building housing cultural material to which the public had access. Later, as museums continued to respond to the societies that created them, the emphasis on the building itself became less dominant. Open-air museums, comprising a series of buildings preserved as objects, and ecomuseums, involving the interpretation of all aspects of an outdoor environment, provide examples of this. In addition, so-called virtual museums exist in electronic form on the Internet. Although virtual museums provide interesting opportunities for and bring certain benefits to existing museums, they remain dependent upon the collection, preservation, and interpretation of material things by the real museum.
Museology and museography
Along with the identification of a clear role for museums in society, there gradually developed a body of theory the study of which is known as museology. For many reasons, the development of this theory was not rapid. Museum personnel were nearly always experienced and trained in a discipline related to a particular collection, and therefore they had little understanding of the museum as a whole, its operation, and its role in society. As a result, the practical aspects of museum work—for example, conservation and display—were achieved through borrowing from other disciplines and other techniques, whether or not they particularly met the requirements of the museum and its public.
hus, not only was the development of theory slow, but the theory’s practical applications—known as museography—fell far short of expectations. Museums suffered from a conflict of purpose, with a resulting lack of clear identity. Further, the apprenticeship method of training for museum work gave little opportunity for the introduction of new ideas. This situation prevailed until other organizations began to coordinate, develop, and promote museums. In some cases, museums came to be organized partly or totally as a government service; in others, professional associations were formed, while an added impetus arose where universities and colleges took on responsibilities for museum training and research.
The words derived from museum have a respectable, if confused, history. Emanuel Mendes da Costa, in his Elements of Conchology, published in 1776, referred to “museographists,” and a Zeitschrift für Museologie und Antiquitätenkunde (“Journal of Museology and Antique Studies”) appeared in Dresden in 1881. But the terms museology and museography have been used indiscriminately in the literature, and there is a tendency, particularly in English-speaking countries, to use museology or museum studies to embrace both the theory and practice of museums.
Cultural heritage is an integral part of the identity of
a region or a tourist destination. It is "an expression
of the ways of living developed by a community and
passed on from generation to generation, including
customs, practices, places, objects, artistic
expression and values. Museums have an
important role in the presentation of cultural
heritage of a tourist destination. They represent a
very special form of non-profit organizations in the
service sector which establish a linkage between
nations’ cultural heritage and modern life .
Over time, the role of museums has changed.
They "serve the functions of collection, research and
exhibition, as well as education and recreation" .
While in the past museums mainly focused on their
collections, and research and exhibitions were their
most important activities their role today is far
more complex. Museums play a significant role in
cultural heritage tourism by facilitating societies'
representations of their history and its relation to
that of other cultures and people .
Contemporary museums have to answer to a
series of challenges in order to fulfill their mission.
In this task, the implementation of the marketing
concept can help them. In fact, "museums need
marketing because they face substantial competition
in the leisure - time marketplace" . In order to
increase audiences, build relationships with
stakeholders, and increase revenue streams
museums should turn to marketing and to
embrace the latest technology in communication
with market. Powerful means to communicate and
reach vast audiences are the websites, which
"provide useful services to the public,
communicating museum programs, exhibitions,
fees, hours, directions, and services"