Magazine
Latest Issue

Playing to the gallery

From art to live music, ease of reproduction has hugely increased the premium of the "real." What does this mean for museums? In a world overloaded with information, their dual roles as sources of culture and popular pleasure are increasingly in tension

By Tom Chatfield   September 2007

Discuss this article at First Drafts, Prospect’s blog

On 24th May 1683, Britain’s first museum, the Ashmolean, opened its doors in Oxford. Divided into three parts, it contained rooms for undergraduate lectures, a laboratory and a miscellaneous collection of specimens and cultural artefacts. Such “collections” had always been considered the preserve of an elite possessing the leisure, taste and education profitably to contemplate them—displaying one to the general public was a radically progressive notion, even though this “public” meant respectable commoners able to afford the admission. Primarily, the museum was intended for research and scholarly taxonomy; the word “museum” itself…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect