"In the early days of the British Museum, prospective visitors had to make a written application and undergo a brief interview to determine if they were fit to be admitted at all. Then they had to return a second time to pick up a ticket - that is, assuming they had passed the interview - and finally come back a third time to view the museum's treasures. Even then they were whisked through in groups and not allowed to linger. Owen's plan was to welcome everyone, even to the point of encouraging working men to visit in the evening, and to devote most of the museum's space to public displays. he even proposed, very radically, to put informative labels on each display so that people could appreciate what they were viewing....By making the Natural History Museum an institution for everyone, Owen transformed our expectations of what museums are for."
(from A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson)
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