The Principles of Museum Administration

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  • Goode arranges the work in an outline format, beginning with an "Analysis" [i.e., Table of Contents] that lists "Introduction" and the titles of eleven treatise sections. In the Introduction, Goode expresses concern that a general theory of administration applicable to all museum work has not yet been produced. He suggests that his preparation of such a treatise would fulfill this omission in the field and be of assistance to museum professionals.
  • Goode also expresses his two main objectives for producing the treatise. The first is to begin the codification of accepted principles of museum administration, hoping that the outline he uses may serve as the foundation for a complete statement of those principles, and that the paper itself will cause a critical but fruitful discussion. Goode's second objective is to set forth the aims and ambitions of modern museum practices to assist those responsible for the establishment and administration of museums and other public institutions.
  • In Section One, "The Museum and Its Relationships," Goode defines the word and concept of museum and discusses its relationship to institutions of higher learning, learned societies, the public library, and expositions. The next three sections, "The Responsibilities and Requirements of Museums," zThe Five Cardinal Necessities in Museum Administration," and "The Classification of Museums," present Goode's philosophy regarding the creation of various types of museums, what they should contain and how they ought to be managed.
  • Goode devotes the next five sections, "The Uses of Specimens and Collections," zThe Preservation and Preparation of Museum Materials," zThe Art of Installation," zRecords, Catalogues, and Specimen Labels," and "Exhibition Labels and Their Function," to the physical aspects of museum collections. He explains how specimens may be collected, handled and studied, and provides details on the arrangement and installation of collections for exhibition. Goode discusses keeping
  • In Section Ten, "Guides and Lecturers; Hand-Books and Reference-Books," Goode views guide books as another form of exhibition labeling, and emphasizes the importance of museum libraries. The last section, "The Future of Museum Work," presents Goode's vision of museums continuing to play an important role in the increase and diffusion of knowledge, but also generating public appreciation for the material value of collections and recognition of the higher functions public museums play in a civilized society.


  • United States National Museum
  • Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian
  • Assistant Secretary in charge of the United States National Museum
  • National Collections


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Reprinted from the Annual Report of the Museums Association, 1895. The Museums Association was founded in England in 1889. Goode delivered the keynote address on "Principles of Museum Administration" to the Museums Association's 1895 annual meeting in Newcastle. At the time G. Brown Goode wrote this definitive guide on the subject of museum administration, he was Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, in charge of the United States National Museum.

Contained within

Annual Report of the Museums Association [U.K.], 1895 (Annual Report)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Acquisitions
  • Museum libraries
  • Exhibition catalogs
  • Museum labels
  • Guide books
  • Museums
  • Labels
  • Management
  • Education
  • Collectors and collecting
  • Public institutions
  • Exhibitions
  • Libraries
  • Learned institutions and societies
  • Philosophy
  • Museum techniques
  • Museums--Philosophy
  • Installation
  • Museums--Collection management
  • Museums--Educational aspects
  • Museums--Management
  • Libraries and museums
  • Museums--Acquisitions
  • Education--Museums
  • Museum exhibits

Physical description

Number of pages: 73

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