Why ‘mouseion’?

The title μουσείον or ‘mouseion’, was suggested by two of the artists working on this project, Karl and Kimberley Foster.  We all loved it, since it reflects both the academic as well as the creative and practical nature of this exhibition by artists, about museums, in a university.  We also liked the way the word looks in English.  Does it have something to do with squeaky rodents?

What follows is the long version of the Ekarv text panel for this exhibition (before it was amended to reflect better the shape and design of the panel itself).

Precursor to the contemporary museum,

the original μουσείον or ‘temple of the muses’

was founded in Alexandria, Egypt in about 290BC.

Part of Ptolemy I’s vast palace complex,

it had a great hall, dining room, arcaded walkways,

and accommodation for 1000 scholars.

The inhabitants were exempt from paying tax

so that they could devote all their time to study.

Its library was the most famous in the world,

containing up to 700,000 volumes.


As a sacred institution for higher learning,

the museum was run by a priest.

More like an academic university

than a place to preserve and interpret objects,

it became the cradle of the modern disciplines.

Science, rhetoric, mathematics, medicine,

philosophy, religion, art and literature

all flourished in its spirit of dialogue and debate.


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