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What is the function of an Art Museum?

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What is the "role" of an art museum? How does a museum provoke thought, stimulate understanding of culture and history and generate knowledge?

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Solution Summary

This solution looks at the various roles a museum fulfills. The museum has multiple functions, including providing education, appreciation, historical perspectives and context to the viewers. Museums also conserve and preserve art and offer a window into the past and a view of contemporary society.

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The museum's role is to provide a venue for visitors to experience, enjoy and respond to works of art, both current and historic. In addition, a museum preserves, conserves, educates and stimulates the visitor, emotionally and intellectually. Art exists for many reasons and an art museum reflects these back to the viewer. Whether the museum is presenting a personal collection in an historic home, such as the Isabella Gardiner Museum in Boston or the Frick in New York, or its halls host rotating exhibits of specific arts, such as the Guggenheim, museums open the eyes, minds and hearts of its visitors. Some exhibits push the edges of our comfort zones, some museums teach us about the past and how people felt about political events, wars, religion, oppression and life in general. Modern art museums may puzzle or disgust the viewer sometimes, or cause a visitor to sigh in amazement. Just as art is an aesthetic response to life, museums house and display art for people to respond to, thereby learning something about themselves, their culture and society.

Museums also remind us that beauty exists in many ways, and there are many ways to express our human response to life.

First and foremost, a museum's role is to make art available for people to see. Presenting paintings, sculpture, textiles, ceramics, photographs and other pieces in a calm, well lit environment, a museum offers space for contemplation by the visitor, allowing each person to discover his or her own response to the art itself. One of the best ways to experience art is to simply sit with it, opening to its messages or its color, shape or image. Museums ...

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