Inside the Lost Museum

Explore museum history

Navigate the timeline by clicking on any date or dragging the viewfinder at the bottom. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Click the "More -->" button for more information. Then click the "Find out more" button for links to original sources.;xNLx;;xNLx;Stories are color-coded. Museums collect (green), preserve (purple), display (gray), and use artifacts in other ways (blue). Stories in red provide context for the timeline.;xNLx;;xNLx;Want to know more? Read [;xSTx;i;xETx;Inside the Lost Museum: Curating, Past and Present;xSTx;/i;xETx;](, by Steven Lubar, published by Harvard University Press. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Special thanks to [Emily Esten]( for her work on this project.

Alfred Stieglitz on Photographs in the Met's Collection

The doors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art were closed to photography. Billy Ivins, curator of prints of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, often asked me why I wouldn't give some photographs to the museum, primarily prints of my own. Invariably I told him that as the museum bought paintings and sculpture and etchings and things, I didn't see why, if photographs were deserving they should not be bought with museum funds. At this he balked, and nothing ever happened.

Decolonize this Museum!

"The American Museum of Natural History has long been an embarrassment to New Yorkers. It needs a serious renovation, to be undertaken by a diverse range of curators drawn from the populations featured in the museum."

AAM's Code of Ethics for Museums

The distinctive character of museum ethics derives from the ownership, care and use of objects, specimens, and living collections representing the world's natural and cultural common wealth. This stewardship of collections entails the highest public trust and carries with it the presumption of rightful ownership, permanence, care, documentation, accessibility and responsible disposal. Thus, the museum ensures that: collections in its custody support its mission and public trust responsibilities collections in its custody are lawfully held, protected, secure, unencumbered, cared for and preserved collections in its custody are accounted for and documented access to the collections and related information is permitted and regulated acquisition, disposal, and loan activities are conducted in a manner that respects the protection and preservation of natural and cultural resources and discourages illicit trade in such materials acquisition, disposal, and loan activities conform to its mission and public trust responsibilities disposal of collections through sale, trade or research activities is solely for the advancement of the museum's mission. Proceeds from the sale of nonliving collections are to be used consistent with the established standards of the museum's discipline, but in no event shall they be used for anything other than acquisition or direct care of collections. the unique and special nature of human remains and funerary and sacred objects is recognized as the basis of all decisions concerning such collections collections-related activities promote the public good rather than individual financial gain competing claims of ownership that may be asserted in connection with objects in its custody should be handled openly, seriously, responsively and with respect for the dignity of all parties involved.

Smithsonian Institution on Accession Cards

The Curator, after receiving an accession lot, shall, at his earliest convenience, and as a matter of urgent routine business (if possible the same day), fill up the accession card with the data necessary for the "Descriptive List of Accessions," and return it to the Registrar...

Significance of the Opening of the Met's American Wing

As William Ivins, curator of prints at the Metropolitan until his retirement in 1946, point out some years later, the establishment of the [Museum's Art's American Wing] “marked not only the coming of age of a particular kind of collecting but a new departure in this country’s museum practice. Because the Metropolitan was America's most famous and oft-visited museum, the influence of the American Wing was widespread. The wing became the model for installations all over the country; within a few years art museums in Philadelphia, Boston, St. Louis, and Baltimore opened their own period rooms.

The Higher Education of Mechanics for their Trades

Then we sadly need good museums in all our large cities. The good such institutions effect is immense; not counting the delight afforded to the educated public. Europe is far ahead of America in this particular, though in the future we ought to have as many and as good museums, as all Europe put together now has.... Many times before coming to America, the writer visited the British and South Kensington Museums. It was constantly a delight to him to observe the orderly throngs of working people viewing everything with evident interest and respecting all they saw, as if it would be a sacrilege to touch or damage anything exhibited. That many whom I saw there carried away with them valuable ideas and suggestions, an instance that came under my own notice, will serve to show.

Foodtopia Exhibit

Tinker imagineers designed FOODTOPIA for the Leiden Boerhaave Museum. The exhibition provides an overview of over one century’s worth of food innovations in the Netherlands. Guest curator Louise O. Fresco, food expert, shows her personal top 10 of exciting innovations for the future. Ranging from algae appetizers to personal foods.

National Museum of Art, Tokyo

Demonstrations at the Hull-House Labor Museum

HULL-HOUSE LABOR MUSEUM./The Labor Museum, which opened four ago in the hope of illustrating the history and growth of industrial processes, has been developed chiefly in the line of textiles. Every Saturday evening, from 7.30 to 0.30, a demonstration is made of the various methods of spinning and weaving which are to be found in the neighborhood. As far as possible these are put into sequence and historic order. An Italian woman, spins by the earliest method, with a simple stick spindle, a Syrian and a Greek with a variation of this method, a Russian with essentially the same spindle, but sitting on a frame which changes the position of the distaff. The earliest spinning by wheel is illustrated by an old Syrian one belonging to the grandmother of Mrs. Munyer, who sent to Syria for it, and presented it to the museum. After that come in quick succession the Irish, Dutch and early colonial wheels. The rest of the process, from the earliest mule spinning to machine method, is illustrated by pictures. The women of various nationalities enjoy the work and the recognition which it very properly brings them as mistresses of an old and honored craft. / Weaving also is exhibited Saturday evenings. In weaving, it has been found possible to reproduce five processes from the earliest Indian method to the power loom which is run by an electric dynamo. / The collection lent by the Field Museum consisting of textile implements and tools as well as of raw materials and finished products, is still in the Hull-House Museum. The latter contains many beautiful specimens of Venetian brocade, ecclesiastical embroideries and elaborate bits of silk from coach cushions and throne rooms. These form a sharp contrast to the specimens of modern cloth which have been kindly given by a Chicago department store. The task of the coming craftsman is to put into the profusion of the machine product more of hte beauty of the hand work which was of necessity limited in quantity.

Anatomy Museum in the University of Edinburgh Medical School, Teviot Place

The magnificent Museum Hall was at the heart of the University of Edinburgh’s new Medical School, designed by architect Robert Rowand Anderson, which opened in 1884. This evocative photograph showing the Victorian display was taken by fashionable London photographers Bedford Lemere.

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