I work in a museum, where I research a particular period of history and run seminars that pertain to it. Yet as an institution, historical museums seem to be fairly recent things! When did people first start curating artefacts and displaying them for the general public? When did people first start organising educational tours around such exhibits? In short, when and where did historical museums first come into existence, and why?

Note: I'm referring to these as "historical museums" in deliberate contrast to art galleries. I think that the history of the art gallery is also an interesting question, but it's a separate one, and since artworks possess a more readily identifiable aesthetic value, my guess is that they would be of greater antiquity.

  • My question doesn't really relate to historiography, and the museum tag is a new one. If anybody would like to re-tag this, please feel free.
    – Shimon bM
    Dec 13, 2016 at 0:03
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    It might depend on what you consider a museum. The library at Alexandria had a museum which housed famous old books, for example. In early modern Europe, fairs and markets would show "curiosities" as would private collections (otherwise known as cabinets of curiosities). In the US the first museum as we think of it might be Peale's in early 19th century Philadelphia and later Barnum in NY, but these are a far cry from, for example, the Penn Archaeology museum or the museum on Natural History.
    – rougon
    Dec 13, 2016 at 3:47

1 Answer 1


You may find your answer here On Wikipedia

Or, if that answer isn't good or you don't think Wikipedia is a good source, you might find your answer here

I hope this helped =)

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    Link-only answers are discouraged in Stack Exchange, because linked sites may disappear, change or move (not likely with Wikipedia and Britannica, but still...). Nothing wrong with links per se, it's just you should provide some context. Welcome to History SE! :)
    – Brasidas
    Dec 13, 2016 at 0:33
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    @Brasidas alright, thanks, and thanks for the welcome! I'm pretty new to Stack's history site Dec 13, 2016 at 0:35

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