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The museum is a recognizable feature of almost everyone’s experience in a developed society, and yet its definition and function are only dimly comprehended. For many people, the concept conjures up associations of a dusty, worthy, vaguely imposing institution founded sometime in the 19th century by either an idealistic learned society or an equally idealistic and well-meaning civic philanthropist. But, in fact, 95% of the world’s existing museums have been established since 1950, and their numbers are increasing significantly. This entry explores the role of the museum in an interculturally competent society, demonstrating the importance of developing what may be termed museological literacy.

Definitions of Museum

Most formal definitions of the museum, such as the 1974 version of the International Council of Museums, emphasize the functions of ...

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