A museum is a place or an institution that collects and displays items within one or more subject areas, such as natural science or visual art, usually to some degree for the purpose of education.
A more precise definition is found in the statutes of the International Council of Museums: "A museum is a non-profit making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of people and their environment."
Types of museums
Several different types of museums are found throughout the world.
Natural science museum
Originally, museums developed from the collections of rarities and pieces of which many European monarchs and gentlemen assembled in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the 18th century, it became common to put such collections in dedicated suites or buildings and make them accessible to select individuals.
The first museum to offer more general, although still not universal, public access was British Museum, which was established in 1753. The foundation for the British Museum was the extensive natural scientific and ethnographic collection of the scientist Sir Hans Sloane, who had bequeathed the collection for the purpose of creating such a museum.