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The definition of the museum has evolved in line with society development. Speaking from etymology, the English word museum comes from Latin. It is originated from the Greek (Mouseion), which denotes a place or temple dedicated to the Muses (the patron divinities in Greek mythology of the arts), and hence a building set apart for study and the arts. Thus museum came to mean a place of education, connected with the Muses. There are also other interpretations. Euripides describes the places where birds sing as mouseia. (Oxford Companion to Classical Literature) The first museum/library is considered to be the one of Plato in Athens. In Roman times the word referred to a place devoted to scholarly occupation (e.g. Museum of Alexandria).
General speaking, the museum is a building, place, or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition, and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical, or artistic value. (Cherie D. Abbey) According to the ICOM (International Council of Museums) Statutes, it adopted the definition below during the 21st General Conference in Vienna, Austria, in 2007:
A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.
Museums can be various in categories, including arts, archaeology, anthropology, ethnology, history, cultural history, science, technology, natural history, botanical and zoological gardens etc. in different regional and cultural settings. Within these categories many museums specialize further, e.g. museums of modern art, folk art, local history, military history, aviation history, philately, agriculture or geology. Rather than specific in theme, encyclopedic museum is the one with collections of art, science, history, and cultural history representative of the world.
As a public institution, the museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting the primary tangible evidence of humans and their environment. Public museums were created to replace private collections by displaying collected works where the general public could profit from a shared experience. The study of art, artifacts, and object become more accessible to everyone, providing a means of discovery and wonder. As cultural palace, the museum bears the memory and wisdom of the history development of mankind. It is like an encyclopedia to incorporate the material and spiritual civilization of our anestrous, just like a birthmark of a city or a country.
1.2 The Development Routing of Museum
The oldest public museum in the world was originated in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds during the Renaissance. Early museums began as the private collections of wealthy individuals, families or institutions of art and rare or curious natural objects and artifacts. These were often displayed in so-called wonder rooms or cabinets of curiosities. The curiosity cabinet is the earliest form of a museum in Western civilization. (Genoways, Hugh H.).
However, it was not until the 17th and 18th century, the origin of the modern museum came into being. The Ashmolean museum, founded in 1677 from the personal collection of Elias Ashmole, was set up in the University of Oxford to be open to the public and is considered to be the first modern public museum. Previously, the museums may have enclosed objects within walls, but the nineteenth century witnessed their doors opened to the general public-witnesses, the museum transformed from the enclosed sphere of court festivals to the public museum, to replace private collections by displaying collected works where the general public could profit from a shared experience. These public museums, however, were often accessible only by the middle and upper classes. In Victorian times England, the museum gradually opens its door to the other working classes so as to enable the opportunity for self-improvement. In France, the first public museum was the Louvre Museum in Paris, also a royal palace, opened in 1793 during the French Revolution, which enabled for the first time free access to the former French royal collections for people of all stations and status. The Revolution transformed the museum from a symbol of arbitrary power into an educative instrument and artifacts collection. (Bennett 1995a: 89) The 18th century saw the opening of great museums such as the British Museum, Louvre, and Uffizi Gallery. By the early 19th century the granting of public access to formerly private collections had become common. The development of museums in the nineteenth 19 century was governed by the view that it would be possible to achieve by the ordered display of selected artifacts a total representation of human reality and history. Museums were arranged to simulate the organization of the world-human and natural-outside the museum walls. It expects to form the rational ordering of things that might mirror the real order of things (Bennett 1988b: 82). The late 19th and early 20th centuries has witnessed a period of intense construction of museum, which is known as the museum period or the museum age. What followed the next 100 years was the worldwide building of museum intended for the public. In the 20th century, museums have broadened their roles as educational facilities, sources of leisure activity, and information centers. Many sites of historical or scientific significance have been developed as museums. Museum attendance has increased greatly, often attracted by blockbuster exhibitions. Over the centuries their functions and role have changed, although at their basic function is the preservation and display of collections. Nevertheless, nowadays museums continuously contribute new knowledge to their fields and continue to build collections that are useful for both research and display. In The Birth of the Museum, Bennett provides a diachronic formation of the museum. Through his accounts, Bennett focuses on the genealogy of the modern public museum, to illuminate the coordination around questions of museum policies and politics that posed.
1.3 The Basis for Bennetts Museum Studies
Tony Bennetts museum studies are related to the evolution of his theoretical routing and constitute a main part of his cultural studies, so there is a necessity to understand the relations of Bennetts museum studies and his cultural studies, especially his thoughts on culture policy studies. Theoretically, Bennett initiates his research on Marxism aesthetic and literature criticism. He is in a close relation with CCCS. Bennett's cultural studies both responded the theory tradition of British Cultural Studies and transcended it. He paid more attention to the working class experience, cultural government and cultural practice. His theory pattern not only transcended the theory tradition of culturalism and structuralism, but embodied with a special political characteristic, which causes a criticism-policy polarity. As to the dichotomy of criticism and policy, ORegan argued that cultural policy and criticism are not hermetically sealed but are porous systems; open enough to permit transformation, incorporation and translation, fluid enough to permit a great range of practices and priorities. (T. ORegan 1992: 418) Similarly, Eagleton remarked that all criticism is in some sense political, and the history of modern literary theory is part of the political and ideological history of our epoch. Such pure€ literary theory is an academic myth. (Terry Eagleton, 1996) Bennett insists on the need to locate a policy horizon within cultural studies, to study on the relations of culture and power. His idea of cultural studies as a political project refers to research on the distribution and operation of power.
It is the Australian context roused Bennett interest in museum studies, whose public culture is totally governmentalized at the very beginning, the role of cultural studies in policy debates is perhaps livelier and more current in Australia than in Britain, as Bennett mentioned that the academy, politics and culture vary a lot from the British society, rather than culture criticism, Australian pays much attention to its relation with colonial history (Bennett 2007: 25), which represents a distinctive characteristics of Australia on the issues of ethical and historical narrative. As a result, Bennett shifted from Gramscian paradigm to Foucaultian paradigm. Foucaults theory on micro-powers and governmentality has an enormous influence on Bennett, and museum is an area where he found the junction. Bennett regards the museum as a culture institution which is related to power operation, to study it from the perspective of cultural studies on the mechanism of museum and politics. Bennetts museum studies reckon on the relations between museum and governance to interpret the content and meaning of pragmatic research on institutional mechanism and politics.
Being a pragmatic scholar, Bennett is frequently involved in cultural policy and mechanism studies. His sociology background has provided him with the tradition of empirical research. The interdisciplinary characteristic of cultural studies has offered him a broaden horizon to conjuncture all kinds of issues into consideration. Tony Bennett joined University of Western Sydney (UWS) as research professor in social and cultural theory at the Centre for Cultural Research in 2009. His previous positions including a period as professor of Sociology at the Open University where he was also a director of the ESRC Centre for Research on socio-cultural change, and professor of cultural studies at Griffith University where he was also dean of Humanities and Director of the ARC Key Centre for Cultural and Media Policy. As director of the Australian Key Centre for Cultural and Media Policy at Griffith University, Bennett played a significant part in promoting cultural policy as a goal for cultural studies. He is a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He has made him an organic intellectual to form conspire between the intellectual and government, a kind of cultural technicians€ proposed by During as a description of the political role of intellectuals to change cultural critics into cultural bureaucrats. During remarked that intellectuals working in the cultural field should think of themselves as cultural technicians€. (S. During 1999: 484)
From 1980s on, Bennett mainly focuses his research on two areas: the relations between culture and government, and the mechanism of museum and other collecting institutions. Museum studies are closely related to cultural studies, especially to Bennetts focus on cultural policy. The culture institution of museum is operate as a technique of the state apparatus for population governance on moral education and behavior management, it has opened up a space of politic discourse, on the operation of knowledge and power for discipline and surveillance. To understand the start point of Bennetts museum studies has prepared for the understanding the mechanism and the operation of power in museum.