Section 4: What is a museum?

  • A museum helps people understand the world by using objects and ideas to interpret the past and present and explore the future.
  • A museum preserves and researches collections, and makes objects and information accessible in actual and virtual environments.
  • Museums are established in the public interest as permanent, not-for-profit organisations that contribute long-term value to communities.
Museums Australia Inc 2002Museums Australia recognises that museums of science, history and art may be designated by many other names, including galleries and keeping places.In addition, the following may qualify as museums for the purposes of the above definition:
  1. natural, archaeological and ethnographic monuments and sites and historical monuments and sites of a museum nature that acquire, conserve and communicate material evidence of people and their environment;
  2. institutions holding collections of and displaying specimens of plants and animals, such as botanical and zoological gardens, herbaria, aquaria and vivaria;
  3. science centres;
  4. cultural centres and other entities that facilitate the preservation, continuation and management of tangible or intangible heritage resources (living heritage and digital creative activity);
  5. such other institutions as the Museums Australia National Council consider as having