Art Gallery vs. Museum

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Difference between Art Gallery and Museum

Art galleries and museums are two spaces in which people can view objects of cultural significance. They may be either large or small and they may have a large variety of different exhibits or a small, focused selection of objects. These exhibits may be either permanent or temporary.


Museums and galleries both exhibit artworks and artifacts to visitors, but they tend to have slightly different focuses. While a museum may show pieces of art, it will also tend to exhibit objects of historical or scientific interest, or which have some other form of cultural interest. The art gallery limits its focus to art. Both museums and art galleries may restrict the range of items that they exhibit to a particular type, such as the work of a particular artist or style, objects from a particular period of history or some other theme. However, galleries and museums can also include a wide range of different types of exhibits, and these exhibits may change over time. Some large galleries and museums have large stores of items that they do not have space to exhibit all at the same time. Museums and galleries can also show objects that are on loan from other museums or from private collectors.


Many art galleries are commercial businesses that are primarily involved in selling art, although there are some galleries that are essentially art museums. Museums do not usually sell their exhibits, although they may have a gift shop. Museums are often funded by trusts or with funding from the government. Art museums, which may be known as art galleries, are funded in the same way as other museums, but commercial art galleries are funded by selling off the exhibited artworks. The visitors to these types of art galleries are interested in buying art, while the visitors to art museums and museums are interested in viewing the exhibits.


Commercial art galleries may offer art lovers the chance to learn more about art and to discover new artists, but this is not their main purpose. Museums and museum-like art galleries focus on providing their visitors with the chance to explore history, science and culture and they are often focused on education. Many museums were established by philanthropists who wanted the general public to be able to explore art, culture and science, and to provide educational opportunities for people who might not have the chance to obtain a conventional education. Museums may offer classes, educational tours or support for local schools and groups in order to fulfill these aims.

Similarities and Differences

Art galleries and museums both enable people to explore art and culture, although the range of exhibits in an art gallery is restricted to pieces of art, while a museum may exhibit any item that is believed to have some sort of significance.

  • Art galleries focus on displaying works of art.
  • Museums can display exhibits of artistic interest, but their exhibits may also inspire interest for other reasons, such as scientific, historical or cultural interest.
  • Art galleries may be businesses that sell their exhibits Museums generally have cultural and educational importance.

Art Gallery and Museum Video


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