History

Come September, the official definition of a museum may change. For the last 50 years, the definition, as dictated by International Council of Museums (ICOM), a consortium of 40,000 professionals representing some 20,000 institutions—has revolved around acquiring, conserving, researching and exhibiting the “tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of
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If you stand inside the ruins of Pompeii and listen very, very hard, you can almost hear the creaking of cart wheels, the tumult of the marketplace, the echoes of Roman voices. Few modern visitors would care to conjure the ghost city’s most striking feature, its appalling stench—togas were brightened by bleaching with sulfur fumes,
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On New Year’s Day 1942, a former government official named Jean Moulin parachuted into Nazi-occupied France on the orders of General Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French movement. His mission—penned on a microfilmed document tucked inside of a matchbox—was to “bring about, within the zone of metropolitan France, … unity of action by
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In August 1917, former czar Nicholas Romanov, his wife and five children marched out of their palace in the Tsarskoye Selo (now Pushkin) countryside for the last time. For their last five months there, the extravagant estate served as the literal gilded cage for the ex-royal family on house arrest. The family maintained daily life—studying,
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On August 16, 1898, Edwin Prescott, a roller coaster designer from Massachusetts, was granted a patent for an improvement to roller coasters that ride enthusiasts have come to take for granted—the vertical loop. While the roller coaster depicted in the patent’s illustration, and later realized as the Loop the Loop coaster at Coney Island, wasn’t
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When Elizabeth I died in 1603, her wardrobe encompassed more than 2,000 sumptuously tailored gowns, from cloth of gold trimmed with ermine and jewels to pearl-draped dresses made of the finest fabrics. Today, little of this attire survives: As Eleri Lynn, a curator for England’s Historic Royal Palaces, explained to the Telegraph’s Gordon Rayner in
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Among the most impressive figure of Charles II’s court was the insatiably curious John Evelyn. The polymathic writer and public official authored some 30 books during his lifetime, covering such diverse topics as fine arts, religion and numismatics. But one of his more enduring passions was horticulture, which he viewed as a moral pursuit. “[T]he
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The score is tied 2-2 and the world championship game has gone into extra innings. There is a runner on third base and a dangerous hitter at the plate. On deck is the pitcher. No-brainer here: walk this guy and take your chances with the weaker hitter. Big mistake. With the game on the line,
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When Julia Child was asked about the design of her home kitchen in 2001, she explained: “It’s certainly the soul of our house, and that’s one reason Paul [her husband] designed it the way he did with nice colors. It’s an attractive room, I think. It’s a work room that’s good looking.” Many people heartily
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Restoration of the razed Notre-Dame Cathedral has been delayed until at least August 19 due to ongoing concerns over lead particles released when the Parisian landmark’s spire and roof collapsed. As Agence France-Presse reports, officials placed clean-up efforts on hold in mid-July after testing revealed high levels of lead contamination throughout the church and its
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It’s been a good year for J.D. Salinger fans: In February—the centennial of the writer’s birth—the author’s son, Matt Salinger, announced plans to release his father’s extensive trove of unpublished works over the next decade. Now, Alexandra Alter reports for the New York Times, Matt has decided to make the literary giant’s oeuvre available on
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