1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Museums of Art
MUSEUMS OF ART. The later 19th century was remarkable for the growth and development of museums, both in Great Britain and abroad. This growth, as Professor Stanley Jevons predicted, synchronizes with the advancement of education. Public museums are now universally required; old institutions have been greatly improved, and many new ones have been founded. The British parliament has passed statutes conferring upon local authorities the power to levy rates for library and museum purposes, while on the continent of Europe the collection and exhibition of objects of antiquity and art has become a recognized duty of the state a.nd municipality alike. A sketch of the history of museums in general is given below, under Museums of Science. The modern museum of art differs essentially from its earlier prototypes. The aimless collection of curiosities and bric-à-brac, brought together without method or system, was the feature of certain famous collections in bygone days, of which the Tradescant Museum, formed in the 17th century, was a good example. This museum was a miscellany without didactic value; it contributed nothing to the advancement of art; its arrangement was unscientific, and the public gained little or no advantage from its existence. The modern museum, on the other hand, should be organized for the public good, and should be, a fruitful source of amusement and instruction to the whole community. Even when Dr Waagen described the collections of England, about 1840, private individuals figured chiefly among the owners of art treasures. Nowadays in making a record of this nature the collections belonging to the. public would attract most attention. This fact is becoming more obvious every year. Not only are acquisitions of great value constantly made, but the principles of museum administration and development are being more closely defined. What Sir William Flower, an eminent authority, called the “ new museum idea ” (Essays on Museums, p. 37) is pervading the treatment of all the ’chief museums of the world. Briefly stated, the new principle of museum development—first enunciated in 1870, but now beginning to receive general support—is that the first aim of public collections shall be education, and their second recreation. To be of teaching value, museum arrangement and classification must be carefully studied. Acquisitions must be added to their proper sections; random purchase of “ curios ” must be avoided. Attention must be given to the proper display andicataloguing of the exhibits, to their housing and preservation, to the lighting, comfort and ventilation of the galleries. Furthermore, facilities must be allowed to those who wish to make special study of the objects on view. “ A museum is like a living organism: it requires continual and tender care; it must grow, or it will perish ” (Flower, p. 13).
Great progress has been made in the classification of objects,
a highly important branch of museum work. There are three
tion possible systems—namely, by date, by material and by nationality. It has been found possible to combine the systems to some extent; for instance, in the ivory department of the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, London, where the broad classification is by material, the objects being further subdivided according to their age, and in a minor degree according to their nationality. But as yet there is no general preference of one system to another. Moreover, the principles of classification are not easily laid down; e.g. musical instruments: should they be included in art exhibits or in the ethnographical section to which they also pertain? Broadly speaking, objects must be classified according to the quality (apart from their nature) for which they are most remarkable. Thus a musket or bass viol of the 16th century, inlaid with ivory and highly decorated, would be properly included in the art section, whereas a common flute or weapon, noteworthy for nothing but its interest as an instrument of music or destruction, would be suitably classified as ethnographic. In England, at any rate, there is no uniformity of practice in this respect, and though it is to be hoped that the ruling desire to classify according to strict scientific rules may not become too prevalent, it would nevertheless be a distinct advantage if, in one or more of the British museums, some attempt were made to illustrate the growth of domestic arts and crafts according to classification by date. Examples of this classification in Munich, Amsterdam, Basel, Zürich and elsewhere afford excellent lessons of history and art, a series of rooms being fitted up to show in chronological order the home life of our ancestors. In the National Museum of Bavaria (Munich) there is a superb suite of rooms illustrating the progress of art from Merovingian times down to the 19th century. Thus classification, though studied, must not check the elasticity of art museums; it should not be allowed to interfere with the mobility of the exhibits—that is to say, it should always be possible to withdraw specimens for the closer inspection of students, and also to send examples on loan to other museums and schools of art—an invaluable system long in vogue at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and one which should be still more widely adopted. An axiom of museum law is that the exhibits shall be properly shown. “ The value of a museum is to be tested by the treatment of its contents ” (Flower, p. 24). But in many museums the chief hindrance to study and enjoyment is overcrowding of exhibits. Although a truism, it is necessary to state that each object should be properly seen, cleaned and safeguarded; but all over the world this rule is forgotten. The rapid acquisition of objects is one cause of overcrowding, but a faulty appreciation of the didactic purpose of the collection is more frequently responsible. In Great Britain, museum progress is satisfactory. Visitors are numbered by millions, access is now permitted on Sundays awww and and week-days alike, and entrance fees are being conp, , z, ess sistently reduced;m this the contrast between Great Britain and some foreign countries is singular. A generation or so ago the national collections of Italy used to be always open to the public. Pay-days, however, were gradually established, with the result that the chief collections are now only visible without payment on Sundays. In Dresden payment is obligatory five days a week. The British Museum never charges for admission. On the other hand, the increase in continental collections is more rapid than in Great Britain, where acquisitions are only made by gift, purchase or bequest. In other European countries enormous collections have been obtained by revolutions and conquest, by dynastic changes, and by secularizing religious foundations. Some of the chief treasures of provincial museums in France were spoils of the Napoleonic armies, though the great bulk of this loot was returned in 1815 to the original owners. In Italy the conversion of a monastery into a museum is a simple process, the Dominican house of San Marco in Florence offering a typical example. A further stimulus to the foundation of museums on the continent is the comparative ease with which old buildings are obtained and adapted for the collections. Thus the Germanisches Museum of Nuremberg is a secularized church and convent; the enormous collections belonging to the town of Ravenna are housed in an old Camaldulensian monastery. At Louvain and Florence municipal palaces of great beauty are used; at Nimes a famous Roman temple; at Urbino the grand ducal palace, and so on. There are, however, certain disadvantages in securing both building and collection ready-made, and the special care devoted to museums in Great Britain can be traced to the fact that their cost to the community is considerable. Immense sums have been spent on the buildings alone, nearly amillion sterling being devoted to the new buildings for the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Had it been possible to secure them without such an outlay the collections themselves would have been much increased, though in this increase itself there would have been a danger, prevalent but not yet fully realized in other countries, of crowding the vacant space with specimens of inferior quality. The result is that fine things a.re badly seen owing to the masses of second-rate examples; moreover, the ample space available induces the authorities to remove works of art from their original places, in order to add them to the museums. Thus the statue of St George by Donatello has been taken from the church of Or San Michele at Florence (on the plea of danger from exposure), and is now placed in a museum where, being dwarfed and under cover, its chief artistic value is lost. The desire to make financial profit from works of art is a direct cause of the modern museum movement in Italy. One result is to displace and thus depreciate many works of art, beautiful in their original places, but quite insignificant when put into a museum. Another result is that, owing to high entrance fees, the humbler class of Italians can rarely see the art treasures of their own country. There are other collections, akin to art museums, which would best be called biographical museums. They illustrate the life and Work of great artists or authors. Of these the most notable are the museums commemorating Dürer at Nuremberg, Beethoven at Bonn, Thorwaldsen at Copenhagen, Shakespeare at Stratford and Michelangelo at Florence. The sacristies of cathedrals often contain ecclesiastical objects of great value, and are shown to the public as museums. Cologne, Aachen, Milan, Monza and Reims have famous treasuries. Many Italian cathedrals have small museums attached to them, usually known as “ Opera del Duomo.”
United Kingdom.-The influence and reputation of the British Museum are so great that its original purpose, as stated in the preamble of the act by which it was founded (17 53, c. 22), may be quoted: “ Whereas all arts and sciences g,7, g::m have a connexion with each other, and discoveries in natural philosophy and other branches of speculative knowledge, for the advancement and improvement whereof the said museum or collection was intended, do, or may in many instances give help and success to the most useful experiments and undertakings ” The “said museum ” above mentioned referred to the collection of Sir Hans Sloane, to be purchased under the act just quoted. Sir Hans Sloane is therein stated, “ through the course of many years, with great labour and expense, to have gathered together whatever could be procured, either in our own or foreign countries, that was rare and curious.” In. order to buy his collections and found the museum a lottery of £300,000 was authorized, divided into 50,000 tickets, the prizes varying from £10 to £10,000. Provision was made for the adequate housing of Sir Robert Cotton's books, already bought in I7O0 (12 and 13 Will. III. c. 7). This act secured for the nation the famous Cottonian manuscripts, "of great use and service for the knowledge and preservation of our constitution, both in church and state.” Sir Robert's grandson had preserved the collection with great care, and was willing that it should not be “ disposed of or embezzled, ” and that it should be preserved for public use and advantage. This act also sets forth the oath to be sworn by the keeper, and deals with the appointment of trustees. This is still the method of internal government at the British Museum, and additions to the Board of Trustees are made by statute, as in 1824, in acknowledgment of a bequest. The trustees are of three classes: (a) three principal trustees, namely the Primate, the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker; (b) general trustees, entitled ex ojjicio to the position in virtue of ministerial office; (c) family, bequest and nominated trustees. A standing committee of the trustees meets regularly at the museum for the transaction of business. The great departments of the museum (apart from the scientific and zoological collections, now placed in the museum in Cromwell Road, South Kensington) are of printed books, MSS., Oriental books, prints and drawings, Egyptian and Assyrian antiquities, British and medieval antiquities, coins and medals. Each of these eight departments is under a keeper, with an expert stalfof subordinates, the head executive officer of the whole museum being styled director and chief librarian. The museum has been enriched by bequests of great importance, especially in the library. Recent legacies have included the porcelain bequeathed by Sir Wollaston Franks, and the valuable collection of works of art (chiefly enamels and gold-smithery) known as the Waddesdon bequest-a legacy of Baron F. de Rothschild. The most important group of acquisition by purchase in the history of the museum is the series of Greek sculptures known as the Elgin Marbles, bought by act of parliament (56 Geo. III. c. 99).
There are four national museums controlled by the Board of Education, until recently styled the Department of Science and Art. The chief of these is the Victoria and Albert Museum: of Museum at South Kensington. This museum has a "'° B°""'4 0 dependency at Bethnal Green., the Dublin and E""“'"'°" Edinburgh museums having been now removed from its direct charge. There is also a museum of practical geology in Iermyn Street, containing valuable specimens of pottery and majolica. The Victoria and Albert Museum owed its inception to the Exhibition of 1851, from the surplus funds of which 12 acres of land were bought in South Kensington. First known as the Department of Practical Art, the museum rapidly established itself on a broad basis. Acquisitions of whole collections and unique specimens were accumulated. In 1857 the Sheepshanks gallery of pictures was presented; in 1879 the India Office transferred to the department the collection of Oriental art formerly belonging to the East India Company; in 1882 the Tones bequest of French furniture and decorative art (1 740-IBIO) was received; in 1884 the Patent Museum was handed over to the department. Books, prints, MSS. and drawings were bequeathed by the Rev. A. Dyce and Mr John Forster. Meanwhile, gifts and purchases had combined to, make the collection one of the most important in Europe. The chief features may be summarized as consisting of pictures, including the Raphael cartoons lent by the king; textiles, silks and tapestry; ceramics and enamels, ivory and plastic art, metal, furniture and Oriental collections. The guiding principle of the museum is the illustration of art applied to-industry. Beauty and decorative attraction is perhaps the chief characteristic of the exhibits here, whereas the British Museum is largely archaeological. With this object in view, the museum possesses numerous reproductions of famous art treasures: casts, facsimiles and electrotypes, some of them so well contrived as to be almost indistinguishable from the originals. An art library with 75,000 olumes and 25,000 prints and photographs is at the disposal of students, and an art school is also attached to the museum. The museum does considerable work among provincial schools of art and museums, “ circulation ” being its function in this connexion. Works of art are sent on temporary loan to local museums, where they are exhibited for certain periods and on being withdrawn are replaced by fresh examples; The subordinate museum of the Board of Education at Bethnal Green. and that at Edinburgh call for no comment, their contents being of slender value. The Dublin Museum, though now controlled by the Irish Department, may be mentioned here as having been founded and worked by the Board of Education. Apart from the fact that it is one of the most suitably housed and organized museums in the British Isles, it is remarkable for its priceless collection of Celtic antiquities, belonging to the Royal Irish Academy, and transferred to the Kildare Street Museum in 1890. Among its most famous specimens of early Irish art may be mentioned the shrine and bell of St Patrick, the Tara brooch, the cross of Cong and the Ardagh chalice. The series of bronze and stone-implements is most perfect, while the jewels, gold ornaments, torques, frbulae, diadems, and so forth are such that, were it possible again to extend the galleries (thus allowing further classification and exhibition space), the collection would' surpass the Danish National Museum at Copenhagen, its chief rival in Europe.
The famous collections of Sir Richard Wallace (d. 1890) having been bequeathed to the British nation by his widow, the public has acquired a magnificent gallery of pictures, Other
N, ,¢;0, ;, | .together with a quantity of works of art, so important -1I1d0llasI- as to make it necessary to include Hertford House zfigggs among national museums. French art predominates, and the examples of bronze, furniture, and porcelain are as fine as those to be seen in the Louvre. Hertford House, however, also contains a most remarkable collection of armour, and the examples of 'Italian faience, enamels, bijouterie, &c., are of first-rate interest. The universities of Cambridge and Oxford have museums, the latter including the Ashmolean collections, a valuable bequest of majolica from D. Fortnum, and some important classical statuary, now in the Taylorian Gallery. Christ Church has a small museum and picture gallery. Trinity College, Dublin, has a miniature archaeological collection, containing some ine examples of early Irish art. The National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, controlled by the Board of Manufactures, was formed by the Scottish Society of Antiquaries, and has a comprehensive collection of Scottish objects, lay and religious. The Tower of London contains armour of historic and artistic interest, and the Royal College of Music has an invaluable collection of musical instruments, presented by Mr George Donaldson. Art museums are also to be found in several public schools in the United Kingdom.
The Museums Act of 1845 enabled town councils to found and maintain museums. This act was superseded by another passed in 1850, by Mr William Ewart, which in its turn has M, m., , m, y amen ing s a u es passe in 1 55, Municipal been replaced b ' d' t t t d ' 8
1866, 1868 and 1885. The Museums and Gymnasiums Act of 1891 sanctioned the provision and maintenance of museums for the reception of local antiquities and other objects of interest, and allows a éd. rate, irrespective of other acts. Boroughs have also the right to levy special rates under private municipal acts, Oldham affording a case in point. Civic museums must still be considered to be in their infancy. Although the movement is now firmly established in municipal enterprise, the collections, taken as a whole, are still somewhat nondescript. In many cases collections have been handed over by local societies, particularly in geology, zoology and other scientific departments. There are about twelve museums in which Roman antiquities are noticeable, among them being Leicester, and the Civic Museum of London, at the Guildhall. British and Anglo-Saxon relics are important features at Sheffield and Liverpool; in the former case owing to the Bateman collection acquired in 1876; while the Mayer collection presented to the latter city contains a highly important series of carved ivories. At Salford, Glasgow and Manchester industrial art is the chief feature of the collections.. Birmingham, with perhaps the nnest provincial collection of industrial art, is supported by the rates to the extent of £4200 a year. Its collections (including here, as in the majority of great towns, , an important gallery of paintings) are entirely derived from gifts and bequests. Birmingham has made a reputation for special exhibitions of Works of art lent for a time to the corporation. These loan exhibitions, about which occasional lectures are given, and of which cheap illustrated catalogues are issued, have largely contributed to the great popularity and efficiency of the museum. Liverpool, Preston, Derby and Sheffield owe their iine museum buildings to private generosity. Other towns have museums which are chiefly supported by subscriptions, e.g. Chester and Newcastle, where there is a fine collection of work by Bewick the engraver. At Exeter the library, museum, and art gallery, together with schools of science and art, are combined in one building. Other towns may be noted as having art museums: Stockport, Nottingham (Wedgwood collection), Leeds, Bootle, Swansea, Bradford, Northampton (British archaeology), and Windsor. There are museums at Belfast, Larne, Kilkenny and Armagh. The cost of the civic museum, being generally computed with the maintenance of the free library, is not easily obtained. In many cases the librarian is also curator of the museum; elsewhere no curator at all is appointed, his work being done by a caretaker. In some museums there is no classification or .cataloguing and the value of existing collections is impaired both by careless treatment and by the too ready acceptance of worthless gifts; often enough the museums are governed by committees of the corporation whose interest and experience are not great.
Foreign M useums.-Art museums are far more numerous on the continent of Europe than in. England. In Germany progress has been very striking, their educational aspect being closely studied. In Italy public collections, which are ten .times more numerous than in England, are chiefly regarded as nnancial assets. The best examples of classification are to be found abroad, at Vienna, Amsterdam, Zurich, Munich and Gizeh in Egypt. The Musée Carnavalet, the historical collection of the city of Paris, is the most perfect civic museum in the world. The buildings in which the objects can be most easily studied are those of Naples, Berlin and Vienna. The value of the aggregate collections in any single country of the great powers, Russia excepted, probably exceeds the value of British collections. At the same time, it must be remembered that masses of foreign collections represent expropriations by the city and the state, together with the inheritance of royal and semi-royal collectors. In Germany and Italy, for instance, there are at least a dozen towns which at one time were capitals of principalities. In some countries the public holds over works of art the pre-emptive right of purchase. In Italy, under the law known as the Editto Pacca, it is illegal to export the more famous works of art. Speaking generally, the 'cost of maintaining municipal museums abroad is very small, many being without expert or highly-paid, officials, while admission fees are often considerable. Nowhere in the United Kingdom are the collections neglected in a manner through which certain towns in Italy and Spain have gained an unenviable name.
Berlin and Vienna have collections of untold richness, and the public are freely admitted. Berlin, besides its picture gallery germany and architectural museum, has a collection of Christian and antiquities in the university. The old museum, a A“S""“~ royal foundation, is renowned for its classical sculpture and a remarkable collection of medieval statuary, in which Italian art is well represented. The new museum is also noteworthy for Greek marbles, and contains bronzes and engravings, together with one of the most typical collections of Egyptian art. Schliemann's discoveries are housed in the Ethnographic Museum. The Museum of Art and Industry, closely similar in object and arrangement to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, contains collections of the same character-enamels, furniture, ceramics, &c. Vienna also has one of these museums (Kunstgewerbe), in which the great value of the examples is enhanced by their judicious arrangement. The Historical Museum of this city is interesting, and the Imperial Museum (of which the structure corresponds almost exactly with a plan of an ideal museum designed by Sir William Flower) is one of the most comprehensive extant, containing armour of world-wide fame and the choicest specimens of industrial art. Prague, Innsbruck and Budapest are respectively the homes of the national museums of Bohemia, Tirol and Hungary. The National Museum of Bavaria (Munich) has been completed, and its exhibition rooms, 100 in number, show the most recent methods of classification, Nuremberg, with upwards of eighty rooms, being its only rival in southern Germany. Mainz andTrier have Roman antiquities. Hamburg, Leipzig and Breslau have good “ Kunstgewerbe ” collections. In Dresden there are four great museums-the johanneum, the Albertinum, the Zwingcr and the Griine Gewiilbe-in which opulent art can best be appreciated; the porcelain of the Dresden galleries is superb, and few branches of art are unrepresented. Gotha is remarkable for its ceramics, Brunswick for enamels (in the ducal cabinet). Museums of minor importance exist at Hanover, Ulm, Würzburg, Danzig and Lübeck.
The central museum of France, the Louvre, was founded
as a public institution during the Revolutionary period. It
France contains the collections of .Francois I., Louis XIV.,
and the Napoleons. Many works of art have been
added to it from royal palaces, and collections formed by distinguished
connoisseurs (Campana, Sauvageot, La Caze) have
been incorporate din it. The Greek sculpture, including the
Venus of Melos and the Niké of Samothrace, is of pre-eminent
fame. Other departments are well furnished, and from a
technical point of view the manner in which the officials have
overcome structural difficulties in adapting the palace to the
needs of an art museum is most instructive. The Cluny
Museum, bought by the city. in 1842, and subsequently
transferred to the state, supplements the medieval collections
of the Louvre, being a storehouse of select works of art. It
suffers, however, from being overcrowded, while for purposes
of study it is badly lighted. At the same time the Maison
Cluny is a well-furnished house, decorated with admirable
things, and as such has a special didactic value of its own,
corresponding in this respect with Hertford House and the
Poldi-Pezzoli Gallery at Milan-collections which are more than
museums, since they show in the best manner the adaptation of
artistic taste to domestic life. The French provincial museums
are numerous and important. Twenty-two were established
early in the rgth century, and received,1000 pictures as gifts
from the state, numbers of which were not returned in 1815 to
the countries whence they were taken. The best of these
museums are at Lyons; at Dijon, where the tombs of Jean sans
Peur and Philip the Bold are preserved; at Amiens, where the
capital Musée de Picardie was built in 18 50; at Marseilles and at
Bayeux, where the “ Tapestry ” is well exhibited. The collections
of Lille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, and Avignon are also important.
The objects shown in these museums are chiefly local
gleanings, consisting largely of church plate, furniture, together
with sculpture, carved wood, and pottery, nearly everything
being French inorigin. In many towns Roman antiquities and
early Christian relics are preserved. (e.g. Autun, Nimes, Arles
and Luxeuil). Other collections controlled by municipalities
arekept at Rouen, Douai, Montpellier, Chartres »(1=.4th-century
sculptures), Grenoble, Toulon, Ajaccio, Epinal (Carolingian
objects), Besancon, Bourges, Le Mans (with the remarkable
enamel of Geoffrey of Anjou), Nancy, Aix and in many other
towns. As a rule, the public is admitted, free of charge, .special
courtesy being shown to foreigners. In many cases the collections
are ill cared for and uncatalogued, and little money is provided
for acquisitions in the civic museums; indeed, in this respect the
great national institutions contrast unfavourably with British
establishments, to which purchase grants are regularly made.
The national, civic and papal museums ofItaly are so numerous
that a few only can be mentioned. The best arranged and best
classified collection is the Museo'Nazionale¢ at Naples, It
containing ' many thousand examples of Roman - My
art, chiefly obtained from the immediate neighbourhood. For
historical importance it ranks as primus inler pares with the
collections of Rome and the Vatican. It is, however, the only
great Italian museum where scientinc treatment is consistently
adopted. Other museums of purely classical art are found at
Syracuse, Cagliari and Palermo. Etruscanart is best displayed
at Arezzo, Perugia (in the university), Cortona, Florence (Museo
Archeologico), Volterra and the Vatican. The;>Fl0rentine
museums are of great importance, consisting of the archaeological
museum of antique bronzes, Egyptian art, and a great number of
tapestries. The Museo Nazionale, housed in the Bargello (A.D.
1260), .is the central depository of Tuscan art. Numerous
examples of Della Robbia ware have been gathered together,
a.nd are fixed to the walls in a manner and position which reduce
their value to a minimum. The plastic arts. of Tuscany are
represented by Donatello, Verrocchio, Ghiberti, and Cellini,
while the Carrand collection of ivories, pictures, land varied
medieval specimens isof much interest. This-museum, like so
many others, is becoming seriously, overcrowded, to the lasting
detriment of churches, market-places, and streets, whence these
works of art are being ruthlessly removed. Thepublic is admitted
free one day a week, and the receipts are devoted to art and
antiquarian purposes (“.tasse destinate . . alla conversazione
dei monument, all' ampliamento degli scavi, ed' all
increment dei institute , nella citta.”-Law .oft 1875, -' § 5).
The museums of Rome are numerous, the Vatican alone containing
at least six-Museo Clementine, of. classical art, with the
Laocoon, the Apollo Belvedere, and other masterpieces; the
Chiaramonti, also of classical sculpture; the Gallery of Inscriptions;
the Egyptian, the Etruscan and the Christian museums.
The last is an extensive collection corresponding with another
papal museum in the Lateran Palace, also known as the Christian
Museum (founded 1843), and remarkable for its sarcophagi and
relics from the Catacombs. The Lateran has also a second
museum known as the Museo Profano. Museums belonging
to the state are equally remarkable. The Kircher Museum deals
with prehistoric art, and contains the “ Preneste Hoard.” The
Museo Nazionale (by the Baths of Diocletian), the Museo Capitolino,
and the Palazzo dei Conservatori contain innumerable
specimens of the finest classical art, vases, bronzes, mosaics,
and statuary, Greek as well as Roman. Among provincial
museums there are few which do not possess at least one or two
objects of signal merit. Thus Brescia, besides a medieval
collection, has-a famous bronze, Victory. Pesaro, Urbino, and
the Museo Correr at Venice have admirable examples of majolica;
Milan, Pisa and Genoa have general archaeology combined with
a good proportion of mediocrity. The civic, museum of Bologna.
is comprehensive and well arranged, having Egyptian, classical,
and Etruscan collections, besides. many. things dating from the
“ Bella, Epoca” of 'Italian art. At Ravenna. alone can the
Byzantine art of Italy be properly understood, and it is most
deplorable that the superb collections in its ine galleries shoufd
remain uncatalogued and neglected. Turin, ,Siena, Padua, anti
other towns have civic museums. ~ .The Ryks Museum at Amsterdam, containing the national
collections of Holland, is a modern building in which a series
Holland.of historical rooms are furnished to show at a glance the artistic progress of the Dutch at any given period. Nine rooms are also devoted to the chronological display of ecclesiastical art. Besides the famous paintings, this museum (the sole drawback of which is the number of rooms which have no top light) contains a library, many engravings, a comprehensive exhibit of armour, costume, metal-Work, and a department of maritime craftsmanship. Arnhem and Haarlem have municipal collections. At Leiden the university maintains a scholarly collection of antiquities. The Hague and Rotterdam have also museums, but everything in Holland is subordinated to the development of the great central depository at Amsterdam, to which examples are sent from all parts of the country. In Belgium the chief museum, that of ancient industrial art, is at Brussels. It contains many pieces of medieval church furniture and decoration, but in this respect differs only in size from the civic museums of Ghent and Luxemburg and the Archbishop's Museum at Utrecht. In Brussels, however, there is a good show of Frankish and Carolingian objects. The city of Antwerp maintains the Musée Plantin, a printing establishment which has survived almost intact, and presents one of the most charming and instructive museums in the world. As a whole, the museums of Belgium are disappointing, though, per contra, the churches are of enhanced interest, not having been pillaged for the beneht of museums.
New museums are being founded in Russia every year. Kharkoi and Odessa (the university) have already large collections, Russia.and in the most remote parts of Siberia it is curious to find carefully chosen collections. Krasnoyarsk has 12,000 specimens, a storehouse of Buriat art. Irkutsk the capital, Tobolsk, Tomsk (university), Khabarovsk, and Yakutsk have now museums. In these Russian art naturally predominates. It is only at Moscow and St Petersburg that Western art is found. The Hermitage Palace in the latter city contains a selection of medieval objects of fabulous value, there being no less than forty early ivories. But from a national point of view these collections are insignificant when compared with the gold and silver objects illustrating the primitive arts and omament of Scythia, Crimea and Caucasia, the high standard attained proving an advanced stage of manual skill. At Moscow (historical museum) the stone and metal relics are scarcely less interesting. There is also a museum of industrial art, the specimens of which are not of unusual value, but being analogous to the Kunstgewerbe movement in Germany, it exercises a wholesome influence upon the designers who study in its schools.
American museums are not committed to traditional systems, and scientific treatment is allowed its fullest scope. They exist America. in great numbers, and though in some cases their exhibits are chiefly ethnographic, a far wider range of art objects is rapidly being secured. The National Museum at Washington, a branch of the Smithsonian Institution (q.v.), while notable for its American historical and ethnological exhibits, has the National Gallery of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (held by trustees for the beneht of the city of New York) has in the Cesnola collection the most complete series of Cypriot art objects. It has also departments of coins, Greek sculpture and general examples of European and American art. The Museum of Fine Arts at Boston is very comprehensive, and has a remarkable collection of ceramics, together with good reproductions of antique art. There are museums at St Louis, Chicago, Pittsburg, Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Buffalo and Washington, as well as Montreal in Canada; and the universities of Harvard, Chicago, Pennsylvania and Yale have important collections.
The Swiss National Museum is situated at Zürich, and though
of medium size (50 rooms), it is a model of arrangement and
Countries.organization. Besides the special feature of rooms illustrating the historical progress of art, its collection of stained glass is important. Basel also (historical museum) is but little inferior in contents or system to the Zürich establishment. Geneva has three collections. Lausanne holds the museum of the canton, and Bern has a municipal collection. All these institutions are well supported financially, and are much appreciated by the Swiss public. The art museums of Stockholm, Christiania and Copenhagen rank high for their intrinsic excellence, but still more for their scientific and didactic value. Stockholm has three museums: that of the Royal Palace, a collection of costume and armour; the Northern Museum, a large collection of domestic art; the National Museum, containing the prehistoric collections, gold ornaments, &c., classihed in a brilliant manner. The National Museum of Denmark at Copenhagen is in this respect even more famous, being probably the second national collection in the world. The arrangement of this collection leaves little to be desired, and it is to be regretted that some British collections, in themselves of immense value, cannot be shown, as at Copenhagen, in a manner which would display their great merits to the fullest degree. There is also at Copenhagen a remarkable collection of antique busts (Gamle Glyptotek), and the Thorwaldsen Museum connected with the sculptor of that name. Norse antiquities are at Christiania (the university) and Bergen. Athens has three museums, all devoted to Greek art: that of the Acropolis, that of the Archaeological Society (vases and terra-cotta) and the National Museum of Antiquities. The state owns all discoveries and these are accumulated at the capital, so that local museums scarcely exist. The collections, which rapidly increase, are of great importance, though as yet they cannot vie with the aggregate in other European countries. The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (Cairo), founded by Mariette Bey at Bulak, afterwards removed to the Giza palace and developed by Maspero, is housed in a large building erected in rgoz, well classified, and liberally supported with money and fresh acquisitions. Minor museums exist at Carthage and Tunis. At Constantinople the Turkish Museum contains some good classical sculpture and a great deal of rubbish. The Museo del Prado and the Archaeological Museum at Madrid are the chief Spanish collections, containing numerous classical objects and many specimens of Moorish and early Spanish art. In Spain museums are badly kept, and their contents are of indifferent value. The museums of the chief provinces are situated at Barcelona, Valencia, Granada and Seville. Cadiz and Cordova have also sadly neglected civic collections. The National Museum of Portugal at Lisbon requires no special comment. The progress of japan is noticeable in its museums as in its industrial enterprise. The National Museum(Weno Park, Tokyo) is large and well arranged in a new building of Western architecture. Ki6t6 and Nara have excellent museums, exclusively of Oriental art, and two Or three other towns have smaller establishments, including commercial museums. There are several museums in India, the chief one being at Calcutta, devoted to Indian antiquities.
The best history of museums can be found in the prefaces and introductions to their official catalogues, but the following works will be useful for reference: Annual Reports presented to Parliament (official) of British Museum and Board of education; Civil Service Estimates, Class IV., annually presented to Parliament; Second Report of Select Committee of House of Commons on Museums of Science and Art Department (official; I vol., 1898); Annual Reports of the Museum Association (London); Edward Edwards, The Fine Arts in England (London, 1840); Professor Stanley Jevons, “ Use and Abuse of Museums,” printed in Methods of Social Reform (London, 1882); Report of Committee on Provincial Museums. Report of British Association (London, 1887); Thos. Greenwood, Museums and Art Galleries (London, 1888); Professor Brown Goode, Museums of the Future, Report on the National Museum for 1889 (Washington, 1891); Principles of Museum Administration; Report of Museum Association (London, 1895); Mariotti, La Legislazione delle belle arti. (Rome, 1892); L. Bénédite, Rapport sur l'organisation . . . dans les musées de la Grande Bretagne (official; Paris, 1895); Sir William Flower, Essays on Museums (London, 1898); Le Gallerie nazionali italiane (3 vols., Rome, 1894); D. Murray, Museums: Their History and Use, with Bibliography and List of Museums in the United Kingdom (3 vols., 1904). (B.)
- Under the term " museum " (Gr. μουσεῖον, temple of the muses) we accept the ordinary distinction, by which it covers a collection of all sorts of art objects, while an art gallery (q.v.) confines itself practically to pictures.