is the diachronic study of museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...
s and how they have established and developed in their role as an educational mechanism under social and political pressures.
Museum displays are given meaning and purpose by the context in which they are created and how they are showcased; museology endeavours to discover the catalysts that support the growth of these associations and their success through such efficiencies. The scope of research goes beyond superficial terms, delving further into topics such as audiences to which exhibits are directed, responsibilities encountered by way of function, as well as some deliberation as to possible futures as an institution. The difficulties that are faced by historians and curator
A curator is a manager or overseer. Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution is a content specialist responsible for an institution's collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material...
s to produce a product that appeals to a varied public and can withstand criticism stimulates ongoing research.
Conception of museums
The principal reasons behind the creation of museums were first, to eliminate arbitrary, private collection
A private collection is a privately owned collection of works, usually a collection of art. If seen in a museum alongside a work or describing said work, it signifies that piece of art in a museum is not actually owned by that museum, but is on loan from an independent source. This source will...
s, and secondly, to open collected works into a public sphere in which they could be appreciated by the general public who could gain and profit from an experience to be shared instead of cloistered and confined. Beyond the elite and the privileged, the study of art, artefacts, and every object imaginable were to become more accessible to the masses, a means of discovery and wonder. In origin, the idea dates back to classical times, but publicly funded foundations can only be traced back a few hundred years. The curiosity cabinet is the earliest form of a museum in Western civilization.
Birth of museology
Museology is the study of the "museum experience" seen both through the eyes of the institution, and the visitor. The motivation factors for both groups that result in the "museum experience" change over time with the collection on display, and the history of this change is also a subject of museology. Museology has only just recently begun to see an improvement in strides made by historians and scholars to focus on its true potential as a legitimate field of study. In 2000, very little discussion had taken place and virtually no research had been done at all. As with many topics, it has taken time for appeal to permeate, and for academia to take notice and begin abrasively questioning the essential and recouping answers to an important dialogue. The actual breaking through of museology as a genuine field of enquiry has been clouded by controversy to the extent that even in its early stages as a field, has fractured into an old and new.
Reasons why this specific scholarly perspective of review has been overlooked may be directly linked with a lack of priority and due to more pressing financial circumstances such as funding and managing collections. These being more practical issues that take precedence have caused a slower infiltration into the mainstream and left many disenchanted with it as a whole. Also, the theme itself is inherently correlated with not just conversation but debate often leaving the subject at a standstill and experts unsatisfied as so much of it relies on theory instead of hard evidence.
Tourism as a vehicle for success
Museums, as a result of competition and the growing tourism market, face a constant identity crisis and must always remain current in an economy that privileges experiences, immediacy, and what the industry calls adventure. But the booming market plays two roles in the lives of museums and museology. In recent years, there has been tremendous growth in the museum population worldwide; the opportunity created by tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...
has left the two intimately linked, but as their relationship grows, so too do concerns as to how to cope with public criticism. A larger audience for museums begs understanding in how to satisfy needs and expectations; museology takes into consideration and studies those public demands and build theories as to why they work and how to duplicate them.
Museum media as a mode of communication
Museums are the quintessential institution
An institution is any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community...
s which use ‘medium’ and ‘message’ as an identical thought through material and the tangible. Museology seeks to understand and develop proficient exhibits
An exhibition, in the most general sense, is an organized presentation and display of a selection of items. In practice, exhibitions usually occur within museums, galleries and exhibition halls, and World's Fairs...
which engage the audience by way of looking at the past and truly grasping techniques and displays that are productive and how they can be adapted to changing societies and utilized to effectively educate and stir interest, awareness, or curiosity. Both form and function become sources to be analysed as they allow greater comprehension of an audience’s overall reception of a message. In establishing continuity between museum and media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...
, popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...
and tourism, museology has taken a transdisciplinary approach broadening discussions and utilizing a wider scope of methodology to explain the inevitable changes which occur.
Artefacts as primary sources
Because the framework of museums lie in material objects as primary sources, historians recognize inherent issues, problematic to the ‘truth’ which they seek to unfold and have been forced to adapt their tactics when drawing information out; this has led to tremendous efforts to borrow from other disciplines. Museology itself has been vital to recognizing this issue and extracting resources from discussions in an effort to resolve concerns such as this which form the structure of its research.