By Kenneth Hudson
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Additional resources for A Social History of Museums: What the Visitors Thought
One has to distinguish between, on the one hand, the wish of private collectors to exclude visitors who were culturally unsuitable - this applied especially to art galleries - and on the other the need to keep the numbers and behaviour of visitors under control. The difference between the two is well illustrated by a comparison of the aims and methods of Sir Ashton Lever, whose museum has already been referred to, and of Dr Richard Mead - both rich, enterprising and unquestionably public-spirited.
The remarkable thing about professional museum visitors is their stamina. They never seem to tire. From about the I82os onwards they begin to criticise the way the collection is arranged, or labelled, or lit, the inconvenience of the opening hours, the behaviour of the attendants. What is very rare is any confession of physical weakness. At all times, the connoisseurs and the professional critics Entry as a right 39 have visited exhibitions and galleries in a different spirit and with a different notion of enjoyment from the general public.
The collection was 'elegantly arranged in glass cases, open every day from 9 o'clock, and brilliantly illuminated every evening, with occasionally a Band of Music'. Admittance cost 25 cents, with children half price. A season ticket could be obtained for one dollar. The Society's collections suffered greatly from a fire in I 778, and were moved to the State House in I 785. The museum was transferred to the newly established Literary and Philosophical Society of South Carolina in I 8 I 4· During the next forty years a number of private natural history collections were acquired, by donation or purchase, and a close link was established with the College of Charleston.
A Social History of Museums: What the Visitors Thought by Kenneth Hudson