This comprehensive history of museums begins with the origins of collecting in prehistory and traces the evolution of museums from grave goods to treasure troves, from the Alexandrian Temple of the Muses to the Renaissance cabinets of curiosities, and onto the diverse array of modern institutions worldwide. The development of museums as public institutions is explored in the context of world history with a special emphasis on the significance of objects and collecting. The book examines how the successful exportation of the European museum model and its international adaptations have created public institutions that are critical tools in diverse societies for understanding the world. Rather than focusing on a specialized aspect of museum history, this volume provides a comprehensive synthesis of museums worldwide from their earliest origins to the present. Museums: A History tells the fascinating story of how museums respond to the needs of the cultures that create them.