The Great American Museum….
By: Joan Butterfield
Although the roots of the museum as a public space that people could visit to trulyexperience art were well laid and cultivated in Europe, the trend of becoming culturedquickly moved across the Atlantic to American and a number of museums werequickly built to accommodate the demand. Never one to let the Europeans get thebetter of them, the Americans that erected and populated the museums on the eastcoast with some fantastic pieces were determined to do it bigger and better, andlargely succeeded. The museums in America are fantastic in terms of the sheer sizeand range of genres that they encompass, but the history is absolutely fascinating andis definitely worth finding out about.American museums soon became known as some of the leading museums in theworld, keeping company with the Vatican museums and some of those strategicallyplaced in the largest cities in Europe, like the Louvre. In fact, the museums in theUSA became known as centres for education for those individuals that wanting tolook a little further into art and expand their horizons. The great American museumsstarted to spring up during the same period of time, that is the later 19
and early 20
centuries. This period was aptly known as the “Museum Age”, or “Museum Period”,and was to be one of enlightenment for the individuals that lived in cities and thosetravelling to cities to view the art alike.The aim of the museums erected during the museum period was to inspire theindividuals that lived in the various states and to provoke academic and scientificdiscoveries that would make the country the greatest in the world. This was the aim of both the natural history, art and historical museums of the period. However, there wasan underlying reason behind the establishment of the museums. They wanted to doeverything bigger and better than the Europeans in addition to wanting to advance theartistic fabric of the country. As a result, many of the museums attempted to get holdof some of the older collections to display and exhibit upon their arrival. Thisincluded work from Ancient Egypt, Rome, Mesopotamia and even the Greek art. Allof this was indeed of massive interest to the American people and the museumsquickly became popular places to hang out.