Early Museums - The First Public Museums

Museums as places for collecting, preserving and displaying of man-made objects are much older than we probably think. First museum that we have proofs of is Ennigaldi-Nanna's museum from 530 BC that was located in state of Ur. It was curetted by Princess Ennigaldi, daughter of King Nabonidus, the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. He is known as the first archeologist and he gave an idea to Princess Ennigaldi to make a museum. Museum held Mesopotamian antiquities and even had labels for items in a shape of clay cylinders with descriptions of items in three languages. It was placed in the royal palace and it was not open to public. First museums opened for public were founded in Rome during the Renaissance.

Capitoline Museum

The oldest public collection of art is Capitoline Museums. It started when Pope Sixtus IV donated ancient bronze sculptures to people of Rome and placed them on Capitoline Hill in 1471. Since then it has grown in number of showpieces and it consists of ancient Roman statues, inscriptions, and medieval and Renaissance art. Museum now has three main buildings that surround the Piazza del Campidoglio in a plan conceived by Michelangelo Buonarroti. Buildings are also connected with underground gallery that goes beneath the piazza.

Vatican Museums were founded in the early 16th century (1506) by Pope Julius II. They are museums in the city-state of Vatican and are located within city borders. Museum began as a one statue (Laocoön and his Sons) but now holds works collected by Roman Catholic Church from classical sculptures and paintings to modern religious art.

In 1684, an abbot Jean-Baptiste Boisot donated his own collection to the Benedictine monks of Saint-Vincent, under the condition that they make a museum out of it that would be open to general public two days in a week. That collection grew and became Musée des Beaux-Arts et d'archéologie de Besançon - the first museum in France.

London British Museum was based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane and it was founded in 1753 and opened for public in 1759.

Uffizi Gallery in Florence is one of the oldest art galleries in the world. It was first opened for visitors in 16th century but only on demand. In 1765 it was opened for public viewing.

Hermitage Museum is founded by Catherine the Great in 1764. Since 1852 it is open for public and today it consists of six buildings including the Winter Palace. It holds over three million items from Egyptian antiquities to Modern art.

The Louvre is one of the largest museums of the world, former royal palace and historic monument. It was opened in 1793. I has almost 35,000 items from all periods of history and is the most visited museum in the world with 8 million visitors a year.

Belvedere Museum in Vienna was built at the place of summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy and opened for public in 1781.

Charleston Museum is a first American museum. It was founded in 1773 and opened for public in 1824.