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WHY THIS SERIES IS BEGUN:
THE OLD MUSEUM AND THE NEW There are about eighty live museums in the United States. Of these, indeed, it is doubtful if the term "live" can be properly applied to more than fifty. Of the total of six hundred institutions in the country which assume the name museum, only the number above noted combine the essentials of museum existence,-a home, collections properly so called, an income and, most important of all these essentials, such activities as may fairly be supposed to produce beneficial effects on their respective communities.
The above data are gathered from the three reports on museums which Mr. Paul M. Rea, director of the Museum of Charleston, S. C., has published in recent years through the U. S. Bureau of Education.
Mr. Rea says quite plainly that these few live museums are doing all the work in the museum field which is worthy of serious consideration. If, then, we assume that a good museum is a proper and helpful institution to any community which may establish and maintain the same; and if we note that there are in this country several thousand towns and cities without museums, good or poor, alive or dead; and if we note that other figures in Mr. Rea's reports show that the number of active museums is increasing quite rapidly, we arrive inevitably at these conclusions: (1) that the museum idea is abroad; (2) that in many communities the wish to establish a museum of some kind is in the minds of at least a few of the more public-spirited citizens; and that, consequently, (3) there is now a wide-spread, if not an intense and popular, demand for suggestions on museum founding and on the elements of museum management.
The literature of this subject is quite meagre. Of all that has been written on it, by far the greater part consists of histories of museums, of descriptions of their contents or perfunctory museum reports, of elaborate and technical discussions of individual objects and of methods of installing costly special objects or special groups. Notable exceptions to this statement are G. Brown Goode's Report on the U. S, National Museum for 1892-3, and other writings by him, and the ten annual volumes of the Proceedings of the American Association of Museums. From these and from a few other sources, which are noted in the appended list of books, journals and proceedings, have been drawn much of the information and many of the suggestions on which we have for eight years based our activities here in Newark.
OUR SEARCH FOR INFORMATION From the very beginnings, eight years ago, of our still modest enterprise, we have felt the need of sources of information on such topics as these:
How to organize a museum association.
objects. How to store safely and compactly objects which are not
in use. How to prepare and display modest temporary exhibits. How to secure such printing of labels, lists, etc., as befits a
museum. How to get expert museum advice and competent museum
workers. How to discover the latest and best things that have been
published on museum work of each and every kind. These and many other queries we have met and answered as best we could. Our problems have not been large ones, in the sense that they involved large expenditures; they have been large, in the sense that they were broad and fundamental, that is, of the kind that every museum must meet in beginning its career.
We have felt so keenly the lack of printed information which gave clear, precise and definite answers to our many queries, that we decided several yeațs ago that, if fortune favored us by keeping our museum alive and growing, we would, in due course, set down in print our own experiences, the results of our in quiries, studies, observations and experiments. And it is precisely because we are young, inquisitive and, we hope, unprejudiced, and have felt so keenly our own ignorance and our own shortcomings, that we are willing to run the risks that go with the offering of advice and suggestion, especially by the young and inexperienced. Often it is those who are just beginning to learn who can give most help to others who are but one step behind them in the learning process.
OUR OPPOSITION TO MUSEUM CONVENTIONS Another aspect of our museum attitude has helped so to em- . bolden us as to make us willing to put down for others that which we are in the very process of learning for ourselves, and that is our frankly confessed opposition to most of the accepted museum conventions. This opposition is addressed not so much to conventions of management as to conventions of purpose.
We decided, quite early in our history, that the art-gallery type of museum would be, for our city, not at all worth the money it would cost to establish and maintain. Special local conditions were in part responsible for this conclusion. Newark is only nine miles from New York, and any Newarker who wishes can, at the cost of fifty cents and three hours time, make a long visit either to the world's best museum of science or to its best museum of art. This cost in money and time will be, in a few years, even less than it is today. To set up in Newark a poor imitation of either of these great institutions; poor at least in its