are dedicated to helping people understand and appreciate the
history of civilizations, and the record of humanity’s artistic,
scientific, and technological achievements. Museums collect objects of
scientific, aesthetic, or historical importance; care for them; and
study, interpret, and exhibit them for the purposes of public
education and the advancement of knowledge. There are museums in
almost every major city in the world and in many smaller communities
The major types of museums are art,
history, natural history, and science. In certain museums, these
disciplines may be combined. Within these categories there are also
many specialized museums emphasizing particular topics or types of
collections, such as museums of local history, music, the cultural
heritage of native peoples, or maritime history.
In the United States, there are
approximately 8,300 museums of all types, with history museums being
the most common type. Canada has about 1,400 museums. In the late
1990s there were, annually, more than 800 million visits to U.S.
museums and more than 25 million visits to Canadian museums.
Online exhibitions and virtual museums
extend a museum beyond its physical walls and invite virtual visitors
to explore images and text at their own pace. These exhibitions range
from digital images of a museum’s works to three-dimensional,
interactive tours of a museum’s galleries with audio and