Welcome to module 2

Learning Objectives


Module 2 will show students how diverse the museum field is, by introducing the various types of museums that exist around the world as well as describing how those museums are organized internally.

At the end of this lesson students will be able to:

  • Describe how a natural history museum is different from an art museum
  • Identify four ways museums can be classified
  • Name the general divisions of a museum’s organizational structure

lecture THEMES

Types of Museums

Not all museums are the same. Watch this video by instructor Angela Linn to be introduced to a few ways museums can be categorized. (12:35)

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Cultural and Heritage Preservation

Josh Reuther discusses the concepts and practices of cultural preservation and heritage conservation in relation to museums. (20:42)

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STUDYING BIODIVERSITY – A context for Natural History Museums

Join faculty curator Steffi Ickert-Bond as she explores natural history museum types, and their mission with collections at the core of biodiversity studies, as well as some examples of the rich kinds of information that are captured by natural history museum collections contributing to societal well-being. (14:16)

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In module two you’ll learn about many different kinds of museums. If we don’t mention examples of every kind of museum listed here, try to look them up on your own to understand how they differ from one another. This list is not exhaustive but is representative.

  1. Art Museum
  2. Anthropology Museum
  3. Natural History Museum
  4. University Museum
  5. Open Air / Living History Museum
  6. History Museum
  7. Virtual Museum
  8. Botanical Garden
  9. Cultural Center
  10. Zoo
  11. Science and Technology Museum
  12. General Museum
  13. Children’s Museum
  14. Aquarium
  15. Ecomuseum

Activities / Assignments

Reading / Video content

NOTE: This week your required assignments include eight very short videos and several articles so you can get a sense of a wide range of museum types. Don’t be overwhelmed when you look at the list. Each video title shows the length so you can plan the time needed to view each one.



American Alliance of Museums – The World is Better Because of Museums (2:55)

Alutiiq Museum – Becoming a Center for Living Culture (6:11)

Iceland – The Settlement Exhibition (871 +/- 2) – (3:25)

National Museum of African American History and Culture – Sweet Home Cafe (2:00)

Museum of Science and Industry – Sparking Interest in STEM Careers (3:00)

Beyond the Gardens: The Plant Family Tree (9:07)

Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) – (2:33)

The African Burial Ground Celebrates 20 Years (1:58)



For Exploration:


Log into our course shell in Canvas and go to ‘Quizzes’ on the left side menu.

Take ‘Quiz 2: Vocabulary relating to the types of museums’.

You will have up to three attempts to match the vocabulary and definitions. Click over to Canvas to take quiz 2.

Meet Up

Time to get together! This is optional but highly encouraged. We will meet via Zoom at 12:30-1:30 pm (AKST) on Friday, January 27. The link to the session can be found in this Google Document (you must be part of the class to view the document). If you are unable to join the meeting will be recorded and you will be expected to review the recording prior to writing your discussion post (see below).


How is a natural history museum different from other museum types?

  1. Create a new post on this website and answer this question based on your personal experience. Your post should be roughly 500 words and should include an image.   Think about material this week and personal experiences you have had to help illustrate your ideas. Alternately, find a recent news article to share about a museum, what are some of your thoughts relating to the article.
  2. At the end of your post, include a question for your fellow students to answer.
  3. Respond to each others’ posts (you will need to respond to/comment on at least two other posts).
  4. Select “2. Types Discussion” from the list of discussion categories on the right-hand side of your posting window on the dashboard.

Looking Forward

Next week we’ll learn about the people working in museums who are as dynamic and varied as the museums themselves!

Did you know?

Fun tidbit not to be tested on.

map of museums in North AmericaThere are more museums in the U.S. than there are Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. – Source