The formation of museums
Museums in Europe
The history of the Arab and Ottoman world was new and exciting for the European public.
The major European powers needed cultural institutions befitting their political status: the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the Imperial Museums in Vienna. The growth of national identity in the early 19th century caused museums to spring up across Europe. They educated and entertained a public who increasingly lived in cities. They also cultivated the sense of taste and design, and an appreciation of technical achievement.

The great International or World's Fairs stimulated the development of such museums, providing the founding collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, for example. The rate of museum foundation increased as the 19th century advanced, with mass education becoming normal, forging citizens of modern nations striving towards “progress”.
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The formation of museums

Museums in Europe
Museums in the Arab and Ottoman world


The British Museum, London, United Kingdom

The official permit (or firman) confirming the appointment of Henry Salt to the post of British Consul in Egypt, dated 23 December 1815. The imperial cipher at the top is flanked by floral motifs. This is a fine manuscript with exquisite Arabic calligraphy and watercolour and gold floral decorations. When Salt arrived in Egypt in 1816 he obtained permission from the Pasha, Muhammad ‘Ali, to collect antiquities for the British Museum.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
The birth of archaeology
The formation of museums
Inspired by the past