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 the artefacts 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 came in large numbers to see the objects in the Capitol. The Capitol became the first museum.
The next two centuries were dominated by (religious and civil) wars in Europe.
This changed in and after the second half of the eighteenth century by the Enlightenment and the rise of the nation-state after 1815.
The city of Basel showed an art collection to the public in 1671, the Amerbach-Kabinett in the Haus zur Mücke. It was the first public collection north of the Alps.
In 1936, the collection was divided between the Art Museum (Kunstmuseum) and the museum of antiquities.