The New Student's Reference Work/Museums
Muse′ums on the whole are a modern birth, although the name was in existence among the ancient Greeks. For, with the Greeks, a museum either was a place dedicated to the muses; or else was of the nature of a temple, school or university. The museum of Alexandria was in its day the great university of the world. The modern museum has arisen out of the modern scientific spirit, which demands actual objects instead of mere words for purposes of study and progress. The British Museum, then, which came into being in 1753, was the beginning of a great laboratory movement in general science. The first French museum was virtually established when in 1789 the magnificent collections of the Louvre were thrown open to the public. The first great American museum was Smithsonian Institution, founded in 1846. This institute partook of the nature of a national museum, for in it were deposited the various collections of documents and relics belonging to the nation, until in 1876 a separate national museum was opened. The British Museum still is the center of interest to scientists, chiefly owing to its wonderful collections of antiquities and its magnificent library. For the purposes of public exhibition it is generally regarded as preferable to show but a portion of the articles, such as are of a character to attract popular interest and educate the popular mind.