Synthesis Essay Museum

Museums have long served a purpose as cultural staples. For every museum, big and small, careful consideration is used in selecting its contents. When securing new items for a museum, it is most important to consider public appeal, educational value, and cost-effectiveness.

What makes a museum different from a billionaire’s private collection is patronage. Thus, a museum must be able to attract visitors interested in its displays. This captivation of interest should be for the purpose of entertainment. No one wants to go to a dull, boring museum and look at dull, boring paintings. One museum that capitalized on human intrigue was that of Charles Wilson Peale. Peale established the first natural history museum in the United States. (AP Intro, Source B) His portrait shows him holding a large curtain slightly open, enticing the viewer and piquing his interest towards the tall wall of paintings in the background. (B) This kind of mystery and intrigue encourages natural human curiosity and is an effective ploy to attract visitors. Peale’s museum offered more than just paintings; he included “performers, a zoo, and an intriguing assembly of biological oddities.” (B) Museums will not prosper or even function without a broad range of visitors to view the collections. On top of that, any current public intellectual trends or fads should be considered when determining new exhibits or galleries. David Rockefeller, son to the founders of the Museum of Modern Arts, warns against political and private interests in museum exhibitions. (Source A) “Strong advocates and financial bankers” ultimately had displays made specifically for their desires, which lead to a museum budget deficit. (A) The greater public’s opinion was not included. Therefore, the consideration of public interest in a new piece and the piece’s level of entertainment are essential to a successful museum.

However, the goal of a museum is not solely to entertain. Rather, they must bear some sort of educational value; patrons should be able to leave with a greater understanding of the museum’s mission or a larger knowledge of the significance of the pieces and their history. Quoted by Handler and Gable, critic Ada Louise Huxtable declares the newly constructed reproduction of Colonial Williamsburg as “too clean,” arguing that it “does not include the filth and stench that would have been commonplace.” (Source E) This sanitation of the truth completely misrepresents history, and the educational value greatly suffers. Conversely, the National Museum of the American Indian hopes to avoid this lack of judgment by dedicating itself to the “preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history,

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