Country of Museums
10 November 2020
The first museums originated in Renaissance Italy during the fifteenth century. The political and constitutional models of Rome and Greece were popular models and the (re)discovery of Greek and Roman authors increased the awareness of the ancient world. Many citizens started to collect items and it was prestigious to show them off.
Antique objects (coins, statues, everyday objects, inscriptions and numerous other artefacts) were omnipresent. The houses and gardens were the showrooms. However, they were private collections.
Pope Sixtus IV (1414-1484) regarded them as a useful propaganda tool in 1471. He wanted to draw attention to the relationship between ancient Rome and Christian Rome and the Pope as the leader, i.e. the new emperor.
The public viewed the objects in the Capitol in large numbers. The collection in the Capitol became the first museum.
The next two centuries were dominated by (religious and civil) wars in Europe, and the elites had other things on their minds than museums.
This changed in and after the second half of the eighteenth century with the Enlightenment and the rise of the nation-state after 1815.
The city of Basel possessed an art collection for the public in 1671, the Amerbach-Kabinett in the Haus zur Mücke. It was the first public collection north of the Alps.
The exhibition — consisting of paintings, drawings and graphic works — continued to expand.
In 1936, the collection was later divided between the Art Museum (Kunstmuseum) and the museum of antiquities.