Museums as Educational Instruments

  • Kenneth Hudson


‘The primary purpose and function of a museum and its exhibits is to educate’, wrote Lothar P. Witteborg, of the American Museum of Natural History in 1958.

To achieve this end at a natural history museum, exhibits should be planned for which actual life is illustrated and in which native skills and cultures are displayed. Nothing should be shown merely because it is ancient or has curiosity value. Specimens, reconstructions and processes should be exhibited because they have the authentic power to open the visitors’ eyes to the movement and meaning of the stream of life. The natural history museum should take elements from nature and from life itself along with theories, concepts, and philosophies achieved through scientific research, and combine them all into a meaningful presentation which tells a story. Within this basic philosophy it is the job of the museum designer and exhibit specialist to arrange the material into an aesthetically pleasing exhibit.1


Natural History Museum Social History Socialist Country Emperor Penguin Museum Visitor 
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  1. 2.
    For an account of its history and arrangement, see Arthur T. Bolton (ed.), Description of the House and Museum on the North Side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the Residence of Sir John Soane (11th ed., 1930).Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    It is discussed by Niels von Holst, Creators, Collectors and Connoisseurs (1967) p. 229.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Harald von Petrikovits, Introduction to 150 Jahre Sammlungen des Rheinisches Landesmuseums Bonn (1970).Google Scholar
  4. 28.
    Thomas Greenwood, Museums and Art Galleries (1888) p. 388.Google Scholar
  5. 26.
    Rolf Kiau, ‘Zur Entwicklung der Museen der DDR’, Neue Museumskunde Jahrgang 12, 4/1969, p. 429.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kenneth Hudson 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Hudson

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