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Education Directors and Museum Teachers

History

Museums were at first private collections designed for the enjoyment of collectors and experts only. In the 18th and 19th centuries, museums were reconceived as public institutions. As public museums grew, so did their need for education directors. As Americans and Europeans began to encourage universal education, museums began to draw in uneducated visitors, resulting in the need for teaching about their collections.

Similarly, zoos and arboretums, which were originally organized to exhibit their animals and plants to experts, began to teach others about their collections. Education directors were hired to plan programs and tours for visitors.

In the United States, early museums displayed objects relating to science and colonial history. Some were in former homes of wealthy colonists and others were established at the first U.S. universities and colleges. In these early museums, curators or archivists maintained the collections and also explained them to visitors. As the collections grew and more visitors came, education directors and museum teachers were hired by the curators to coordinate and run educational programs.