Museum is a Latin word, derived from the Greek "mouseion", originally meaning a temple dedicated to the Nine Muses. The term "museum" and its contemporary associations as an edifice to house and or display collections of objects of beauty and worth did not come into being until the Renaissance.

The first museum or mouseion, founded circa 290 BC in Alexandria, Egypt by Ptolemy I Soter, was a community of scholars supported by a grant from the treasury. The community included apartments, a dining hall, lecture hall, cloister, botanical garden, zoological park, astronomical observatory, and the famed Library of Alexandria. Objects such as animal hides, surgical and astronomical instruments, elephant tusks, statues, and portrait busts were also housed there, and used for teaching. The museum and most of its library were destroyed circa 270 AD during civil disturbances.


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