Museum Basics

3rd Edition

By Timothy Ambrose, Crispin Paine

Routledge – 2012 – 496 pages

Series: Heritage: Care-Preservation-Management

Purchasing Options:

  • Add to CartPaperback: $55.95
    April 10th 2012
  • Add to CartHardback: $135.00
    April 11th 2012


Museums throughout the world have common needs and face common challenges. Keeping up-to-date with new ideas and changing practice is challenging for small and medium-sized museums where time for reading and training is often restricted. This new edition of Museum Basics has therefore been produced for the many museums worldwide that operate with limited resources and few professional staff. The comprehensive training course provided within the book is also suitable for museum studies students who wish to gain a full understanding of work within a museum.

Drawing from a wide range of practical experience, the authors provide a basic guide to all aspects of museum work, from audience development and education, through collections management and conservation, to museum organisation and forward planning. Organised on a modular basis with over 110 Units, Museum Basics can be used as a reference work to assist day-to-day museum management and as the key textbook in pre-service and in-service training programmes. It is designed to be supplemented by case studies, project work and group discussion.

This third edition has been fully updated and extended to take account of the many changes that have occurred in the world of museums in the last five years. It includes over 100 new diagrams supporting the text, a glossary, sources of information and support as well as a select bibliography. Museum Basics is also now supported by its own companion website providing a wide range of additional resources for the reader.


List of figures Acknowledgements Foreword Section 1: Introductory Section 2: The museum and its users Section 3: Interpreting collections Section 4: Collecting and Collections Section 5: Managing and Caring for Collections Section 6: The museum and its buildings Section 7: The museum and its management Section 8: Supporting resources

Author Bio

Timothy Ambrose is an international consultant working in the field of museums and cultural heritage. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a Fellow of the Museums Association. He has particular interests in the role of museums in destination development and has published widely.

Crispin Paine is a museums and heritage consultant, writer and lecturer. He is an Honorary Lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and a Fellow of the Museums Association. He has particular interests in local community museums and in the material culture of religion.

Author Website


Welcome to the new companion website to the third edition of Museum Basics. Museum Basics is the leading introductory textbook for students, as well as professionals and volunteers in museums throughout the world. Published in association with the International Council of Museums, Museum Basics is aimed particularly at smaller museums with limited resources.

You will find here a wide range of additional material to support learning and teaching.

For tutors, the Museum Basics companion website includes a set of essay questions and assignments relating to the content of each of the 100+ units, a complete set of diagrams in the text on PowerPoint slides, and a set of 160+ PowerPoint slides providing the key points in each of the units.

For museum professionals, volunteers and students, the companion website includes a copy of the glossary and a regularly updated bibliography, as well as a selection of links to key websites of professional interest.

The website also includes a growing number of photographs of different aspects of museums and their work provided by professionals and students around the world.

The Museum Basics companion website will be regularly updated to provide new resources for professional museum staff, tutors and students.

Photographs – Information for readers

Do you have any photographs of your museum work that you are proud of, or that might inspire or help other museum workers? We would be pleased to receive them for consideration for the website. All aspects of museum work are of interest, reflecting the range and coverage of topics in Museum Basics.

Any photographs selected will be fully acknowledged and referenced to the relevant unit(s) in the text.

We invite you to send your photographs electronically to: