In most countries, and especially in the United States, museums are a reflection of society. Usually, the buildings exemplify civic pride, serving as examples of architectural accomplishments. The public and political importance of a museum is signified by how it is funded and to what degree, as well as by the scope of its collections. The collections also provide evidence of the curiosity of the community's citizens to know and experience not only American culture, but the societies of other people, lands, and eras.

Today, more than any other time in its history, the museum in the United States is a place for education for everyone. This was not always so; early museums had exclusive private collections that were owned by and open only to the ...

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