The word museum, it is claimed, first referred to the 'temple of the muses,' built by Ptolemy in AD 2 in Alexandria, where performances of music, dance and poetry took place at a site adjoining a library and collection of antiquities. (i)

mu se'um n. a building for an exhibit of art, science, etc. (ii)

A museum is not only a place, but a state of mind. It is about collecting, of perceiving where there is a need, and actively courting those with the material. It is also about housekeeping - preservation, maintenance and security. Finally, it is about sharing this new thing that has been birthed - this collection - with a larger group of interested people, the public. (iii)

By including dance performances and an onsite archive, the Contemporary American Dance Museum will stretch the modern, narrow, dictionary definition of the word museum, while retaining somewhat its original, broader meaning.


i.  B. Robertson, "The Museum and the Democratic Fallacy," Art in America 58 (July - August 1971), quoted in Marie C. Malaro, A Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections, 2d ed. (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998), 3-4.

ii.  The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary, 1981.

iii. This statement is from an anonymous market survey respondent who is a curator, lecturer, editor, critic, journalist, historian, and teacher of dance history, 2000.