Museum Musing

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So I'm getting ready for a week-long trip to NYC, putting together a "To Do" list and checking out what shows are happening at which museums. It's kind of curious: I lived in NYC for close to 15 years and only got to each of the big museums a handful of times. Now I'm a tourist in my old city, eager to do touristy-type things. Go figure.

Anyway, I clicked over to the Met Museum's site to discover that they now feature factoids on a different work from their Permanent Collection, daily. A couple days ago, when I first clicked, the website was featuring Dendur, the only Egyptian temple in the western hemisphere "“ a gift from the Egyptian government to the United States in 1965 (later awarded to the Met in 1967).

I found this pretty interesting because that very same day, I just happened to be doing some research on Ptolemy I Soter (don't ask"¦ okay, if you must know: it's for a new novel I'm working on) and learned that the very first museum "“ as in ever "“ was founded by him in Alexandria, Egypt during the 3rd century BC.

Apparently, Ptolemy's museum housed a strange variety of things, including surgical and astronomical instruments, animal hides, statues, and elephant tusks. More importantly, there was the Bruckion, a library that held the most important collection of manuscripts ever assembled: Homer, Hesiod, Plato, Pythagoras, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides"¦ all under one roof.

Speaking of Greek manuscripts, did you know our word "museum" is a derivative of the Greek "mouseion", or "a temple dedicated to the Nine Muses"?

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August 9, 2006 - 8:52am
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