Public institution dedicated to preserving and interpreting the primary tangible evidence of humans and their environment. Types of museums include general (multidisciplinary) museums, natural-history museums, science and technology museums, history museums, and art museums. In Roman times the word referred to a place devoted to scholarly occupation (see Museum of Alexandria). The public museum as it is known today did not develop until the 17th–18th century. The first organized body to receive a private collection, erect a building to house it, and make it publicly available was the University of Oxford; the resulting Ashmolean Museum opened in 1683. The 18th century saw the opening of great museums such as the British Museum, Louvre, and Uffizi Gallery. By the early 19th century the granting of public access to formerly private collections had become common. What followed for the next 100 years was the worldwide founding of museums intended for the public. In the 20th century, museums have broadened their roles as educational facilities, sources of leisure activity, and information centres. Many sites of historical or scientific significance have been developed as museums. Museum attendance has increased greatly, often attracted by “blockbuster” exhibitions, though museums have had to become more financially resourceful due to constraints in public funding.
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Museum of decorative arts in London. It was conceived by Prince Albert as a way to improve the standards of British design by making the finest models available for study. The core collection, consisting of objects purchased at the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition, was originally called the Museum of Ornamental Art and was opened by Queen Victoria in 1857. A new building was later designed by Sir Aston Webb, and the museum was renamed when Victoria laid the cornerstone in 1899; it was opened to the public by Edward VII in 1909. It houses vast collections of European sculpture, ceramics, furniture, metalwork, jewelry, textiles, and musical instruments from medieval times to the present; remarkable Chinese ceramics, jade, and sculpture; the premier collection of Italian Renaissance sculpture outside Italy; and the outstanding national collection of British watercolours, miniatures, prints, and drawings. It is regarded as the world's greatest decorative-arts museum. Its branch museums include the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood and the Wellington Museum. The Theatre Museum was also a branch until January 2007, when it was closed.
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Museum in New York City, the world's most comprehensive collection of U.S. and European art from the late 19th century to the present. It was founded in 1929 by a group of private collectors. The original building on 53rd St. opened in 1939; a later addition and sculpture garden were designed by Philip Johnson (1953). A condominium tower and western wing, doubling the exhibition space, were completed in 1984. Its collections of Cubist, Surrealist, and Abstract Expressionist paintings are extensive; other holdings include sculpture, graphic arts, industrial design, architecture, photography, and film. Through its permanent collections, exhibitions, and many publications, it exerts a strong influence on public taste and artistic production.
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Most comprehensive collection of art in the U.S. and one of the foremost in the world. It was incorporated in New York City in 1870, and the present building in Central Park on Fifth Avenue was opened in 1880. The Metropolitan was built with the private fortunes of businessmen; today it is owned by the city but supported mainly by private endowment. Its outstanding Egyptian, Mesopotamian, East Asian, Middle Eastern, Greek and Roman, European, pre-Columbian, and U.S. collections include—in addition to paintings, sculpture, and graphic arts—architecture, glass, ceramics, textiles, metalwork, furniture, arms and armour, and musical instruments. It also incorporates a Costume Institute and the Thomas J. Watson Library, one of the world's greatest art and archaeology reference collections. Much of the medieval collection is housed at The Cloisters in Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park; its building (1938) incorporates parts of medieval monasteries and churches.
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Largest museum in Russia and one of the most important in the world. Located in St. Petersburg, it derives its name from the “Hermitage” pavilion adjoining the Winter Palace, built in 1764–67 for Catherine II (the Great) as a private gallery for her treasured collections. On her death in 1796, the imperial collections were estimated to total 4,000 pictures. After the Winter Palace was destroyed by fire in 1837, the Hermitage was reconstructed and opened to the public by Nicholas I in 1852. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the collections were transferred to public ownership. The museum is now housed in five interconnected buildings, including the Winter Palace and the Small, Old, and New Hermitages. Along with thousands of art objects from Central Asia, India, China, Egypt, the pre-Columbian Americas, Greece, and Rome, the Hermitage houses outstanding collections of Western painting. Russian history is represented by archaeological material from prehistoric times onward.
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Museum in New York City housing the Solomon R. Guggenheim collection of modern art. An example of the “organic architecture” of Frank Lloyd Wright, the building (constructed 1956–59) represents a radical departure from traditional museum design, spiraling upward and outward in a smooth coil of massive, unadorned white concrete. The exhibition space, which has been criticized for upstaging the artwork displayed, consists of a six-story-high spiral ramp encircling an open centre volume lighted by a dome of glass supported by stainless steel. The museum has a comprehensive collection of European painting from throughout the 20th century and of American painting from the second half of the century.
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Britain's national museum of archaeology and antiquities, established in London in 1753 when the government purchased three large private collections consisting of books, manuscripts, prints, drawings, paintings, medals, coins, seals, cameos, and natural curiosities. In 1881 the natural-history collections were transferred to another building to form the Natural History Museum, and in 1973 the library collections were consolidated to form the British Library. Among the museum's most famous holdings are the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone, the Portland Vase, and Chinese ceramics. In 1808 the department of prints and drawings opened with over 2,000 drawings. It is now one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections.
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Major centre of research and education on the natural sciences, established in New York City in 1869. It pioneered in staging field expeditions and creating dioramas and other lifelike exhibits showing natural habitats and their plant and animal life. Its research collections contain tens of millions of specimens, and its fossil and insect collections are among the largest in the world. It conducts research in anthropology, astronomy, entomology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate biology, mammalogy, mineralogy, ornithology, and vertebrate paleontology, and it maintains permanent research stations in The Bahamas and the U.S. states of New York, Florida, and Arizona. It also contains one of the world's largest planetariums.
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When Italian musicians began to appear more frequently, along with new dances like the waltz and polka and a new hybrid accordion, a conflict arose, and Italian and Auvergnat musicians became segregated.
By the end of the war, there were three kinds of bals-musette:
The French upper-class began frequenting these establishments, looking for excitement among the poor and downtrodden. Some staged mock police raids for their benefit.
New musical forms like jazz and tango left their mark on bal-musette following the war, and dances like the waltz, mazurka, pasodoble, beguine, foxtrot and java spread through Paris. Later, new instruments were added, including the banjo, clarinet, trumpet, saxophone, mandolin and bandoneon.
It was in about 1945 that musette became the most popular kind of French music. Its biggest stars were known across the country until about 1960, when its popularity declined drastically. Now, a form of modern musette is emerging, and a revival of such balls is witnessed especially in big towns.