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Leicester Special Collections

Aberdeen Art Gallery

Young Visitors Guide, n.d. 

Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum began in 1873 when John Forbes White and local art collectors wanted a space in which they could display their collections.[1] An art gallery was founded ‘for the benefit of citizens’. [2] This document is interesting because it is aimed at children. What is said here are the very basic but core elements that make up a museum. The document pulls out conservation, collecting, displaying and also educating as key roles of a museum. These are not too dissimilar from ICOM’s definition which states:

A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment. [3]

People are being instilled in them from a young age that museums collect, conserve, exhibit and educate. The results from a BritainThinks report on the public perceptions of museums show us that these roles remain with us and are what we think of, as adults, to be the ‘essential purposes’ of a museum. [4]

Are these the first roles that come into your head when you think of the jobs a museum does?

[1] Aberdeen Museum, Who We Are, <> [accessed 26/07/2017]

[2] Ibid.

[3] ICOM, Museum Definition, <> [accessed 15/8/2017].

[4] Britain Thinks, Public perceptions of – and attitudes to – the purpose of museums in society: a report prepared by BritainThinks for Museums Association, 2013, <>, [accessed 9/10/2016], p. 4.