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MUSEUMS OF SCIENCE

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Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 68 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MUSEUMS OF SCIENCE. The ideal museum should cover the whole field of human knowledge. It should teach the truths of all the sciences, including anthropology, the science which deals with man and all his works in every age. All the sciences and all the arts are correlated. The wide separation of collections illustrative of the arts (see MUSEUMS OF ART above) from those illustrative of the sciences, and their treatment as if belonging to a wholly different sphere, is arbitrary. Such separation, which is to-day the rule rather than the exception, is due to the circumstances of the origin of many collections, or in other cases to the limitations imposed by poverty or lack of space. Many of the national museums of continental Europe had their beginnings in collections privately acquired by monarchs, who, at a time when the modern sciences were in their infancy, entertained themselves by assembling objects which appealed to their love of the beautiful and the curious. The pictures, marbles, bronzes and brit-a-brac of the palace became the nucleus of the museum of to-day, and in some notable cases the palace itself was converted into a museum. In a few instances these museums, in which works of art had the first place, have been enriched and supplemented by collections illustrative of the advancing sciences of a later date, but in a majority of cases these collections have remained what they were at the outset, mere exponents of human handicraft in one or the other, or all of its various departments. Some recent great foundations have copied the more or less defective models of the past, and museums devoted exclusively to the illustration of one or the other narrow segment of knowledge will no doubt continue to be multiplied, and in spite of their limited range, will do much good. A notable illustration of the influence of lack of space in bringing about a separation of anthropological collections from collections illustrative of other sciences is afforded by the national collection in London. For many years the collections of the British Museum, literary, artistic and scientific, were assembled in ideal relationship in Bloomsbury, but at last the accumulation of treasure became so vast and the difficulties of administration were so pressing that a separation was decided upon, and the natural history collections were finally removed to the separate museum in Cromwell Road, South Kensington. But the student of museums can never fail to regret that the necessities of space and financial considerations compelled this separation, which in a measure destroyed the ideal relationship which had for so many years obtained. The ancient world knew nothing of museums in the modern sense of the term. There were collections of paintings and statuary in the temples and palaces of Greece and Rome; the homes of the wealthy were everywhere adorned by works of art; curious objects of natural history were often brought from afar, as the skins of the female gorillas, which Hanno after his voyage on the west coast of Africa hung up in the temple of Astarte at Carthage; Alexander the Great granted to his illustrious teacher, Aristotle, a large sum of money for use in his scientific researches, sent him natural history collections from conquered lands, and put at his service thousands of men to collect specimens, upon which he based his work on natural history; the museum of Alexandria, which included within its keeping the Alexandrian library, was a great university composed of a number of associated colleges; but there was nowhere in all the ancient world an institution which exactly corresponded in its scope and purpose to the modern museum. The term " museum," after the burning of the great institution of Alexandria, appears to have fallen into disuse from the 4th to the 17th century, and the idea which the word represented slipped from the minds of men. The revival of learning in the 15th century was accompanied by an awakening of interest in classical antiquity, and many persons laboured eagerly upon the collection of memorials of the past. Statuary, inscriptions, gems, coins, medals and manuscripts were assembled by the wealthy and the learned. The leaders in this movement were presently followed by others who devoted themselves to the search for minerals, plants and curious animals. Among the more famous early collectors of objects of natural history maybe mentioned Georg Agricola (1490-1555), who has been styled " the father of mineralogy." By his labours the elector Augustus of Saxony was induced to establish the Kunst and Naturalien Kammer, which has since expanded into the various museums at Dresden. One of his contempo- xIx. 3raries was Conrad Gesner of Zurich (1516-1565), " the German Pliny," whose writings are still resorted to by the curious. Others whose names are familiar were Pierre Belon (1517–1564), professor at the College de France; Andrea Cesalpini (1519-1603),. whose herbarium is still preserved at Florence; Ulissi Aldrovandi (1522-1605), remnants of whose collections still exist at Bologna; Ole Worm (1588–1654), a Danish physician, after whom the so-called " Wormian bones " of the skull are named, and who was one of the first to cultivate what is now known as the science of prehistoric archaeology. At a later date the collection of Albert Seba (1665–1736) of Amsterdam became famous, and was purchased by Peter the Great in 1716, and removed to St Petersburg. In Great Britain among early collectors were the two Tradescants; Sir John Woodward (1665–1728), a portion of whose collections, bequeathed by him to Cambridge University is still preserved there in the Woodwardian or Geological Museum; Sir James Balfour (1600-1657), and Sir Andrew Balfour (163o-1694), whose work was continued in part by Sir Robert Sibbald (1641–1722). The first person to elaborate and present to modern minds the thought of an institution which should assemble within its walls the things which men wish to see and study was Bacon, who in his New Atlantis (1627) broadly sketched the outline of a great national museum of science and art. The first surviving scientific museum established upon a substantial basis was the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, founded by Elias Ashmole. The original collection had been made by the Tradescants, father and son, gardeners who were in the employment of the duke of Buckingham and later of King Charles I. and his queen; it consisted of " twelve cartloads of curiosities," principally from Virginia and Algiers, which the younger Tradescant bequeathed to Ashmole, and which, after much litigation with Tradescant's widow, he gave to Oxford upon condition that a suitable building should be provided. This was done in 1682 after plans by Sir Christopher Wren. Ashmole in his diary makes record, on the 17th of February 1683, that " the last load of my rareties was sent to the barge, and this afternoon I relapsed into the gout." The establishment of the German academy of Naturae Curiosi in 1652, of the Royal Society of London in 166o, and of the Academic des Sciences of Paris in 1666, imparted a powerful impulse to scientific investigation, which was reflected not only in the labours of a multitude of persons who undertook the formation of private scientific collections, but in the initiation by crowned heads of movements looking toward the formation of national collections, many of which, having their beginnings in the latter half of the 17th century and the early years of the 18th century, survive to the present day. The most famous of all English collectors in his time was Sir Hans Sloane (166o–i753), whose vast collection, acquired at a great outlay of money, and including the collections of Petiver, Courten, Merret, Plukenet, and Buddle—all of which he had purchased—was by his will bequeathed to the British nation on condition that parliament should pay to his heirs the sum of £20,000, a sum far less than that which he had expended upon it, and representing, it is said, only the value of the coins which it contained. Sloane was a man who might justly have said of himself " humani nihil a me alienum puto "; and his collection attested the catholicity of his tastes and the breadth of his scientific appetencies. The bequest of Sloane was accepted upon the terms of his will, and, together with the library of George II., which had likewise been bequeathed to the nation, was thrown open to the public at Bloomsbury in 1759 as the British Museum. As showing the great advances which have occurred in the administration of museums since that day, the following extract taken from A Guide-Book to the General Contents of the British Museum, published in 1761, is interesting: ". . . fifteen persons are allowed to view it in one Company, the Time allotted is two Hours; and when any Number not exceeding fifteen are inclined to see it, they must send a List of their Christian and Sirnames, Additions, and Places of Abode, to the Porter's Lodge, in order to their being entered in the Book; in a few Days the respective Tickets will be made out, specifying II the Day and Hour in which they are to come, which, on being petrography and the invertebrate paleontology of the British Islands. The botanical collections at Kew are classic, and are as rich in types as are the zoological collections of the British Museum. The Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons contains a notable assemblage of specimens illustrating anatomy, both human and comparative, as well as pathology. In London also a number of private owners possess large collections of natural history specimens, principally ornithological, entomological and conchological, in some instances destined to find a final resting place in the national collection. One of the most important of these great collections is that formed by F. Ducane Godman, whose work on the fauna of middle America, entitled Biologic centrali-americana, is an enduring monument to his learning and generosity. The Hon. Walter Rothschild has accumulated at Tring one of the largest and most important natural history collections which has ever been assembled by a single individual. It is particularly rich in rare species which are either already extinct or verging upon extinction, and the ornithological and entomological collections are vast in extent and rich in types. Lord Walsingham has at his country seat, Merton Hall, near Thetford, the largest and most perfect collection of the microlepidoptera of the world which is in existence. The Ashmolean Museum and the University Museum at Oxford, and the Woodwardian Museum and the University Museum at Cambridge, are remarkable collections. The Free Public Museum at Liverpool is in some respects one of the finest and most successfully arranged museums in Great Britain. It contains a great wealth of important scientific material, and is rich in types, particularly of birds. The Manchester Museum of Owens College and the museum in Sheffield have in recent years accomplished much for the cause of science and popular education. The Bristol Museum has latterly achieved considerable growth and has become a centre of much enlightened activity. The Royal Scottish Museum, the herbarium of the Royal Botanical Garden, and the collections of the Challenger Expedition Office in Edinburgh, are worthy of particular mention. The museum of the university of Glasgow and the Glasgow Museum contain valuable collections. The museum of St Andrews University is very rich in material illustrating marine zoology, and so also are the collections of University College at Dundee. The Science and Art Museum of Dublin and the Public Museum of Belfast, in addition to the works of art which they contain, possess scientific collections of importance. There are also in Great Britain and Ireland some two hundred smaller museums, in which there are collections which cannot be overlooked by specialists, more particularly by those interested in geology, paleontology and archaeology. sent for, are delivered. If by any Accident some of the Parties are prevented from coming, it is proper they send their Ticket back to the Lodge, as nobody can be admitted with it but themselves. It is to be remarked that the fewer Names there are in a List, the sooner they are likely to be admitted to see it." The establishment of the British Museum was coincident in time with the development of the systematic study of nature, of which Linnaeus was at that time the most distinguished exponent. The modern sciences, the wonderful triumphs of which have revolutionized the world, were just emerging from their infancy. Museums were speedily found to furnish the best agency for preserving the records of advancing knowledge, so far as these consisted of the materials upon which the investigator had laboured. In a short time it became customary for the student, either during his lifetime or at his death, to entrust to the permanent custody of museums the collections upon which he had based his studies and observations. Museums were thenceforth rapidly multiplied, and came to be universally regarded as proper repositories for scientific collections of all kinds. But the use of museums as repositories of the collections of the learned came presently to be associated with their use as seats of original investigation and research. Collections of new and rare objects which had not yet received attentive study came into their possession. Voyages of exploration into unknown lands, undertaken at public or private expense, added continually to their treasures. The comparison of newer collections with older collections which had been already made the subject of study, was undertaken. New truths were thus ascertained. A body of students was attracted to the museums, who in a few years by their investigations began not only to add to the sum of human knowledge, but by their publications to shed lustre upon the institutions with which they were connected. The spirit of inquiry was wisely fostered by private and public munificence, and museums as centres for the diffusion of scientific truth came to hold a well-recognized position. Later still, about the middle of the rgth century, when the importance of popular education and the necessity of popularizing knowledge came to be more thoroughly recognized than it had heretofore been, museums were found to be peculiarly adapted in certain respects for the promotion of the culture of the masses. They became under the new impulse not merely repositories of scientific records and seats of original research, but powerful educational agencies, in which by object lessons the most important truths of science were capable of being pleasantly imparted to multitudes. The old narrow restrictions were thrown down. Their doors were freely opened to the people, and at the beginning of the loth century the movement for the establishment of museums assumed a magnitude scarcely, if at all, less than the movement on behalf of the diffusion of popular knowledge through public libraries. While great national museums have been founded and all the large municipalities of the world through private or civic gifts have established museums within their limits, a multitude of lesser towns, and even in some cases villages, have established museums, and museums as adjuncts of universities, colleges and high schools have come to be recognized as almost indispensable. The movement has assumed its greatest proportions in Great Britain and her colonies, Germany, and the United States of America, although in many other lands it has already advanced far. There are now in existence in the world, exclusive of museums of art, not less than 2000 scientific museums which possess in themselves elements of permanence, some of which are splendidly supported by public munificence, and a number of which have been richly endowed by private benefactions. Great Britain and Ireland.—The greatest museum in London is the British Museum. The natural history department at South Kensington, with its wealth of types deposited there, constitutes the most important collection of the kind in the world. The Museum of Practical Geology in Jermyn Street contains a beautiful and well-arranged collection of minerals and a very complete series of specimens illustrative of the India.—The Indian Museum, the Geological Museum of the Geological Survey of India, and the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden in Calcutta, are richly endowed with collections illustrating the natural history of Hindostan and adjacent countries. The finest collection of the vertebrate fossils of the Siwalik Hills is that found in the Indian Museum. The Victoria and Albert Museum in Bombay and the Government Museum in Madras are institutions of importance. Australia.—The Queensland Museum, and the museum of the Geological Survey of Queensland located in Brisbane, and the National Museum at Melbourne, Victoria, represent important beginnings. Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, is the centre of considerable scientific activity. The museums connected with the university of Sydney, the museum of the Geological Survey of New South Wales, and the Australian Museum, all possess valuable collections. The museum at Adelaide is noteworthy. New Zealand.—Good collections are found in the Otago Museum, Dunedin, the Canterbury Museum at Christ Church, the Auckland Museum at Auckland, and the Colonial Museum at Wellington. South Africa: The South African Museum at Capetown is a flourishing and important institution, which has done excellent work in the field of South African zoology. A museum has been established at Durban, Natal, which gives evidence of vitality. Egypt.—Archaeological studies overshadow all others in the land of the Nile, and the splendid collections of the great museum of antiquities at Cairo find nothing to parallel them in the domain of the purely natural sciences. A geological museum was, however, established in the autumn of 1903, and in view of recent remarkable paleontological discoveries in Egypt possesses brilliant opportunities ethnographical and anthropological collections at Budapest. The natural history collections of the Bohemian national museum at Prague are well arranged, though not remarkably extensive. Russia.—The Rumiantsof Museum in Moscow possesses splendid buildings, with a library of over 700,000 volumes in addition to splendid artistic treasures, and is rich in natural history specimens. It is one of the most magnificent foundations of its kind in Europe. There are a number of magnificent museums in St Petersburg which contain stores of important material. Foremost among these is the museum of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, rich in collections illustrating the zoology, paleontology and ethnology, not only of the Russian Empire, but also of foreign lands. There are a number of provincial museums in the larger cities of Russia which are growing in importance. Italy.—Italy is rich in museums of art, but natural history collections are not as strongly represented as in other lands. Connected with the various universities are collections which possess more or less importance from the standpoint of the specialist. The Museo Civico di Storia Naturale at Genoa, and the collections preserved at the marine biological station at Naples, have most interest for the zoologist. Spain.—There are no natural history collections of first importance in Spain, though at all the universities there are minor collections, which are in some instances creditably cared for and arranged. Portugal.—The natural history museum at Lisbon contains important ornithological treasures. Eastern Asia.—The awakening of the empire of Japan has resulted among other things in the cultivation of the modern sciences, and there are a number of scientific students, mostly trained in European and American universities, who are doing excellent work in the biological and allied sciences. Very creditable beginnings have been made in connexion with the Imperial University at Tokio for the establishment of a museum of natural history. At Shanghai there is a collection, gathered by the Chinese branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, which is in a decadent state, but contains much good material. Otherwise as yet the movement to establish museums has not laid strong hold upon the inhabitants of eastern Asia. At Batavia in Java, and at Manila in the Philippine Islands, there are found the nuclei of important collections. Canada.—In connexion with the Universiti Laval in Quebec, the McGill University in Montreal, and the university of Toronto in "Ontario, beginnings of significance have been made. The Peter Redpath Museum of McGill College contains important collections in all branches of natural history, more particularly botany. The provincial museum at Victoria, British Columbia, is growing in importance. A movement has been begun to establish at Ottawa a museum which shall in a sense be for the Dominion a national establishment. France.—Paris abounds in institutions for the promotion of culture. In possession of many of the institutions of learning, such as the E°cole Nationale Superieure des Mines, the Institut National Agronomique, and the various learned societies, are collections of greater or less importance which must be consulted at times by specialists in the various sciences. The Museum d'Histoire Naturelle in the Jardin des Plantes is the most comprehensive and important collection of its kind in the French metropolis, and while not as rich in types as the British Museum, nevertheless contains a vast assemblage of classic specimens reflecting the labours of former generations of French naturalists. Unfortunately, much of the best material, consisting of the types of species obtained by the naturalists of French voyages of exploration, have been too long exposed to the intense light which fills the great building and have become bleached and faded to a great degree. The zeal to popularize knowledge by the display of specimens has conflicted with the purpose to preserve the records of science, a fact which French naturalists themselves universally admit. As in England, so also in France, there are a number of virtuosi, who have amassed fine private collections. One of the very largest and finest of all the entomological collections of the world is that at Rennes, belonging to the brothers Oberthiir, upon which they have expended princely sums. The Museum des Sciences Naturelles of Lyons is in some respects an important institution. Belgium.—Brussels has been called " a city of museums." The Musee du Congo and the Musee Royal d'Histoire Naturelle du Belgique are the two most important institutions from the standpoint of the naturalist. The former is rich in ethnographic and zoological material brought from the Congo Free State, and the latter contains very important paleontological collections. Holland.—The zoological museum of the Koninklijk Zoologisch Genootschap, affiliated with the university at Amsterdam, is well known. The royal museums connected with the university of Leiden are centres of much scientific activity. Denmark.—The National Museum at Copenhagen is particularly rich in Scandinavian and Danish antiquities. Sweden.—ln Stockholm, the capital, the Nordiska Museet is devoted to Scandinavian ethnology, and the Naturhistoriska Riks-Museum is rich in paleontological, botanical and archaeological collections. Great scientific treasures are also contained in the museums connected with the university of Upsala. Norway.—Classic collections especially interesting to the student of marine zoology are contained in the university of Christiania. Germany.--Germany is rich in museums, some of which are of very great importance. The Museum file Naturkunde, the ethnographical museum, the anthropological museum, the mineralogical museum and the agricultural museum in Berlin are noble institutions, the first mentioned being particularly rich in classical collections. Hamburg boasts an excellent natural history museum and ethnographical museum, the Museum Godeffroy and the Museum Umlauff. There are a number of important private collections in Hamburg. The municipal museum in Bremen is important from the standpoint of the naturalist and ethnologist. The Roemer Museum at Hildesheim is one of the best provincial museums in Germany. Dresden even more justly than Brussels may be called " a city of museums," and the mineralogical, archaeological, zoological and anthropological museums are exceedingly important from the standpoint of the naturalist. Here also in private hands is the greatest collection of palaearctic lepidoptcra in Europe, belonging to the heirs of Dr Otto Staudinger. The ethnographical museum at Leipzig is rich in collections brought together from South and Central America. The natural history museum, t he anatomical museum and the ethnographical museum in Munich are important institutions, the first mentioned being particularly rich in paleontological treasures. The natural history museum of Stuttgart is likewise noted for its important paleontological collections. The Senckenbergische Naturforsc?:ende Gesellschaft museum at Frankfort-on-the-Main contains a very important collection of ethnographical, zoological and botanical material. The museum of the university at Bonn, and more particularly the anatomical museum, are noteworthy. In connexion with almost all the German universities and in almost all the larger towns and cities are to be found museums, in many of which there are important assemblages illustrating not only the natural history of the immediate neighbourhood, but in a multitude of cases containing important material collected in foreign lands. One of the most interesting of the smaller museums lately established is that at Lubeck, a model in its way for a provincial museum. Austro-Hungary.—The Imperial Natural HistoryMuseum inVienna is one of the noblest institutions of its kind in Europe, and possesses one of the finest mineralogical collections in the world. It is rich also in botanical and conchological collections. There are important United States.—The movement to establish museums in the United States is comparatively recent. One of the very earliest collections (18os), which, however, was soon dispersed, was made by Charles Willson Peale ,(q.v.). The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, established in 1812, is the oldest society for the promotion of the natural sciences in the United States. It possesses a very important library and some most excellent collections, and is rich in ornithological, conchological and botanical types. The city of Philadelphia also points with pride to the free museum of archaeology connected with the university of Pennsylvania, and- to the Philadelphia museums, the latter museums of commerce, but which incidentally do much to pro-mote scientific knowledge, especially in the domain of ethnology, botany and mineralogy. The Wistar Institute of Anatomy is well endowed and organized. The zoological museum at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is associated with the names of Louis and Alexander Agassiz, the former of whom by his learning and activity as a collector, and the latter by his munificent gifts, as well as by his important researches, not only created the institution, but made it a potent agency for the advancement of science. The Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, likewise connected with Harvard University, is one of the greatest institutions of its kind in the New World. The Essex Institute at Salem, Massachusetts, is noteworthy. The Butterfield Museum, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, and the Fairbanks Museum of Natural Science (1891) at St Johnsbury, Vermont, are important modern institutions. In . the museum of Amherst College are preserved the types of the birds described by J. J. Audubon, the shells described by C. B. Adams, the mineralogical collections of Charles Upham Shepard, and the paleontological collections of President Hitchcock. In Springfield (1898) and Worcester, Massachusetts, there are excellent museums. The Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, contains much of the paleontological material described by Professor O. C. Marsh. The New York State Museum at Albany is important from a geological and paleontological standpoint. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City, founded in 1869, provision for the growth and enlargement of which upon a scale of the
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