“Museums are…”: informal definitions by university students

Several university students at the Portuguese Catholic University (UCP), from different academic backgrounds and cultural contexts, forming an almost global geography between Japan and the United States, despite the European predominance, wrote their museum’s definitions. Without having had (yet) any theoretical introduction to the topic, although they have enrolled in an optional curricular unit, “Museology and Heritage”, it is curious to know the perception that new generations have about the museum and to discover, through their definitions, what their experiences and memories are as museums visitors.

Students visit the exhibition “Hands over the city”
Lisbon, UCP, Galeria Fundação Amélia de Mello
Photo: MIR, 2024

These are their museum definitions:

“A museum is a space for sharing knowledge; it is a space where we can learn about a specific topic, about a specific culture, about heritage, whether through physical heritage or not (tangible or intangible heritage), and mainly to identify what is our heritage and what is not and what is our personal heritage. It is as if it were a heritage vault, whether through the objects that are there, the environment it reflects, the geographical location where it is located, or the language in which the exhibition is originally presented.” (Beatriz Pascoal)

“A museum is a place where people’s heritage has been preserved, and it provides an opportunity for people to go and reconnect with their personal heritage or shared global heritage. It also explores the different types of connections people have during these present times to who we were historically.” (Gabby Wingard)

“A museum is a place where artefacts and objects of cultural, historical, scientific, or artistic significance are stored, displayed, and preserved for public viewing and education. […] museums play a crucial role in preserving heritage, promoting learning, and fostering cultural appreciation. Museums offer us a window onto the world, an opportunity to explore bygone eras and distant cultures. It is a magical and fascinating place. Entering a museum means immersing yourself in different worlds, discovering new perspectives and being inspired by human creativity. Each work on display tells a story, an emotion, a thought, and through them we can travel through time and space.” (Giada Sana)

“A museum is a place that hosts and exhibits artefacts and other objects that tell a story or a history of a particular place, group of people, culture, or type of artwork. Museums help to display humanity. What I mean by this is that museums’ exhibit the ways humans interact with each other and with the world. Museums are a reminder of the beauty of humans, their desire to create and feel emotions and express themselves.” (Jorrin Ellison)

“Museums can be places where one illustrates a certain place and time in history through presenting historical aspects from these eras, whether that be physical items such as tools or things like paintings from that time frame depicting events that happened. They may be used as a way of reflecting social constructs and cultural themes thanks to the preservation of the plethora of things that can be covered under the umbrella of museum and heritage. One can learn about their ancestors through museums, like tangible and intangible heritage, all of which help a person identify and connect with their past.” (Marta Patoka)

“Museums are places where we can find many works reflecting an artist’s ideas, stories, and heritage. Going to a museum can have different meanings, such as wanting to learn about a certain culture, topic or even a time in history. It is, in a way, a place where we can connect to someone we don’t know through art.” (Nawel Zine)

There are no correct or wrong answers; all of them express a personal perspective.  Nevertheless, this young student group prevails in validating museums as a space of memories, knowledge and wonder. Museums are considered for their uniqueness and permanency towards the global postmodern fluidity and immediacy.



Citar este post
Maria Isabel Roque (2024, 1 Março). “Museums are…”: informal definitions by university students. a.muse.arte. Recuperado em 28 de Maio de 2024, de https://doi.org/10.58079/vxw5

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