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Terms and Definitions - MUSEUM TERM DEFINITIONS AN D...

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Unformatted text preview: MUSEUM TERM DEFINITIONS AN D QUESTIONS Derived from “Museum Defined” in G. Ellis Burcaw’s Introduction to Museum Work. 3rd ed. 1Walnut Creek, CA: 1933. Bell Museum Terms Defined Object: a material, three—dimensional thing of any kind- “The paper bag contained three objects.” Museum object: an object in the collection of a museum, collected for its own Sake. For example, a cassette tape collected as such and not for whatever sound might have been recorded on it. Specimen: usually synonymous with museum object but properly having the connotation of an example or sample; a representative member of a class of objects. ”The sedimentary rock exhibit needed a limestone specimen.” Artifact: an object produced or shaped by human work or, possibly, a natural object deliberately selected and used by a human being. A cultural specimen. “The archaeologies examined the tray' of rocks to see ifit contained artifacts such as spear points.” Art object: an artifact of aesthetic interest [drough not necessarily intended to be an art object by its creator). “ The niche in the gallery wall was meant to hold an art object." Work of art: something of aesthetic importance created by a htunan being l{note that works of art are not necessarily art objects; for example, a symphony orchestra). “Her clay pot was a work of art, but so was her cherry pie, or for that matter, her dancing.” Collections: the collected objects of a museum, acquired and preserved because of their potential value as examples, as reference material, or as objects of aesthetic or educational importance. Collection: a unit of the collections, consisting of objects having something of importance in connnon. “One may speak of the bird‘s-egg collection of a neutral history museum, or of the J. w. Whiteford collection if Mr. Wteford has donated a large number of important, similarobjects to the museum.” Accession: one or more objects acquired at one time from one source constituting a single transaction between the museum and a source, or the transaction itself. “We made ten accessions last month totaling 218 objects. The third accession from Miss Baum consisted of a sword. A previous accession took place a year ago. It included over a thousand butterflies and some other things” Registration: assigning a permanent number for identification purposes to an accession and recording this number according to a system. ”As soon as the accession was registered, it was turned over to the graduate students for study.” Cataloguing: assigning an object to one or more categories of an organized classification system. “The chair was catalogued as a Civil War item, and it was also entered in the catalogue with the furnishings of the former governor’s mansion” Classification of collections: the establishment of the major categories of the collection on the basis of anticipated use. This is a prior condition, or prerequisite, of good collecting. Art objects are collected primarily with the intent of interpreting [explaining] the past. Science objects are collected primarily to demonstrate andlor interpret natural phenomena and the laws and applications of science. “The art curator saw no value in the old lithograph and called it hideous, but it was just . what the history curator had been looking for to complete the decorations of the parlor of the historic house that was being restored as an annex of the mnseurn, The curator of botany was on an expedition collecting specimens for an exhibit of tundra vegetation.” Display: the showing of objects, depending on the interest of the viewer in the objects themselves. “A shoe store displays shoes in its window.” Exhibit: of more serious, important, and professional connotation that “diaplay.” It is the presentation of ideas with the intent of educating the viewer, or, in the case of an art exhibit, a planned presentation of art objects by an infonned person to constitute a unit. As Such, it might be an identifiable part of the exhibition. “A museum uses objects and labels in preparing an exhibit." “There was an exhibit of engravings in the 1Victorian Art Exhibition.” Label: written material in an exhibit to identify, to explain, and to inform. Labels may also be called signs, titles, captions, or text. Often the labels accomplish more real education in an exhibit than the objects. “The main label was placed at eye level. The only other labels in the case were the captions on the photographs.“ Exhibition: an assemblage of objects of artistic, historical, scientific, or technological nature, through which visitors move from unit to unit in a sequence designed to be meaningful instructionally andfor aesthetically. Accompanying labels andfor graphics {drawings diagrams, etc.) are planned to interpret, to explain, and to direct the viewer’s attention. Usually, an exhibition covers a goodly mount of floor space, consists of several separate exhibits or large objects, and deals with a broad, rather than a narrow, subject. ‘The art museum director organized an exhibition of the Elk-century paintings.” “We added an exhibit of quartz crystal to the rock and mineral exhibition. We then displayed some crystals in the sales room.” Art show: a temporary diaplay of art objects, commonly the paintings of one or a few contemporary artists; informal connotation. Art gallery: a commercial establishment for the buying and selling of art objects; or a separate exhibition room devoted to art in a general museum; or an art museum. The word “gallery" places the emphasis 0n the displaying of works of art, regardless of the ownership of the objects. “When for: art teacher retired, she opened a gallery on Main Street to handle the work of her fonner Students.” Art museum: a museum devoted to one or more of the art fields {dealing with objects). The emphasis here is on the ownership and preservation of important collections. “The finest collection of Oriental ceramics in the Southwest is in that art museum.” Art center: an establishment by and for a community where art lessons are taught, the work of local artists is shown, and other art interests of the conununity are accommodated. The performing arts may be included, but ordinarily there is no permanent collection of objects. Significance: having meaning or importance; hence, consenting museums, serving the educational purpose of a museum. A significant object in the museum’s collection is one that can be used by the museum educationally. Docent: originally, a university-level teacher who was not a member of the regular faculty. In the museum content, a decent is a trained volunteer teacher-guide. Historical society: an organization having the purpose of discovering, preserving, and disseminating important knowledge of past human behavior in a particular region It may or may not have. various departments devoted to archival, library, publication, preservation, or museum work. The essential point here is that a historical society need not collect objects, though most do. “Historical society," therefore, is not synonymous with “historical museum.” Alienation: in a museum context, the loss of objects From the collections, for whatever reason. Fungiblc: a legal concept having to do with the replacement of one thing by another. in museum worlt the term is used to describe the collections of zoos, botanical gardens, and similar biological institutions. The objects in the collections are not. permanent, since all living things die, but as new specimens are added, the collections on the whole continue. We say that aquariums can be museums with iimgihle collections. Definitions of “Museum” The American Association of Museums” Definition for the Purposes of Museum Accreditation by the Association A museum is an organized and permanent nonprofit institution, essentially educational or aesthetic in purpose, with professional staff, which owns and utilizes tangible objects, cares for them, and eidnbits them to the public on some regular schedule. For finther clarification, the key words used in the definition are further defined as follows: a. Organized institution: a duly constituted bod}r with expressed responsibilities. b. Permanent: the institution is expected to continue in perpetuity. c. Professional surfi- volunteer or paid employees who command an appropriate body of special knovdedge and the ability to reach museological decisions consonant with the experience of their peers, and who also have access to and acquaintance with the literature of the field. d. Tangible objects: things animate and inanimate. e. Care: the keeping of adequate records pertaining to the provenance, identification, and location of a museum‘s holdings and the application of current professionally accepted methods to their security and to the minimizing of damage and deterioration. f. Schedule: regular and predictable hours which constitute substantially more than a token opening, so mat access is reasonably convenient to the public. General museum: a museum dealing with several or all fields instead of just art, just history, just geology, etc. “The director is an anthropologist and his assistant is a historian; but since theirs is a general museum they need to hire a curator of art.” Encyclopedic museum: a general museum that has practically no limitations as to time, space, and subject placed on its collections, and which seeks broad coverage in all fields. “The coverage of some subjects is rather superficial in the encyclopedic museum, but at least they can claim with some justification that they have something of interest to every visitor.“ Historic building or site: a structure or location of significant historic connections, often associated with a famous person or even or a significant social or economic development; may took over the administration of two historic include eahibits of pertinent objects- “The museum houses,_and the curator of history immediately began to plan for the authentic rcfiurnishing of someo'l the ground floor rooms.“ Botanieml} garden: grounds with or without greenhouses, for the scientific cultivation of plants for study and display. Arboretum: a botanical garden that specialises in trees. Herbarium: a systematic collection of preserved plant specimens. fessionally designed and managed Zoological garden {zoological park, son}: a pro and that is often concerned with the. compound where live animals are kept for study and display, preservation of endangered animal species. Aquarium: a building equipped with tanks ibr a collection of animals that live in water. ht on a domed ceiling to represent the Planetarium: a machine which projects tiny spots of lig and the institution that maintains the stars and planets, the building which houses such a projector, facility. Nature center: an establishment for outdoor learning about nature, including a natural site for field study, with facilities and services for an interpretive program. Visitor center: a facility for the interpretation of a historical site or natural region, usually: with a small auditorium, exhibits, and an information desk. Established by the National Park Service. forest service, state parks department, or other agency accommodating tourists. at that deals largely with exhibitions and .tt‘_. .uuo'L our..-” Mme-r: a Facility or establishme ...
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