|Located across the Galaxy, museums act as repositories, conservation labs, and exhibition halls, and serve in an educational and recreational capacity to provide cultural or historical resources to their community. While the role or of a museum may often parallel the goals and functions of a library, the assets, professional training, and materials handled by each are different. The focus of both libraries and museums is on collections, but where libraries specialize in literacy materials and readily accessible information for members to handle, museums, in contrast, specialize in unique, monetarily or intellectually valuable objects, artifacts or specimens that are not available for personal use.
Museums can be devoted to a variety of subjects, ranging from history to fine arts to biology. Smaller museums are often dedicated to a single individual or event, while larger museums can cover an entire field of study, with individual wings devoted to subsets of the field. These wings are often filled with art work, geological samples, artifacts, or taxidermic displays of animals. Cultural exhibits often use holographic models of sentients and their native environments. All of these displays are protected by redundant security systems, which include transparisteel cases, motion and heat sensors, and in some cases, computer controlled-blasters set for stun. These security systems can be easily installed and readjusted to account for changes in exhibits or to accommodate traveling exhibitions.
Due to the expense of specialized equipment required, museums are almost exclusively found in moderately to heavily urbanized areas where the populace can help support the museum’s funding, although simple and small museums may be found in suburban or even rural areas. Some exceptionally large cities may have more than one museum, each devoted to a different subject matter. While museums often have construction costs comparable to libraries and require similar materials, museums often earn greater prestige and attract greater attention due to the sheer credit value of the exhibits. The cost to insure exhibits must be recouped in some way, or the museum may go bankrupt. These costs are often recovered in admission fees, special membership fees, donations, and sales from souvenirs.
In addition to the publicly-displayed items, museums often store thousands of relics in warehouses. These items are often unworthy of display, undergoing conservation or refurbishment, on loan for study, or being prepared for an upcoming exhibition. The care for museum objects falls to the curator and his staff. Larger museums often have researchers to ascertain the purpose of newly-acquired artifacts or specimens and educational staff to give guided tours and teach visitors about the displays. Most staffs are overseen by a director, who reports to a board of trustees. The board exists to procure funds and objects for display and to attract traveling exhibits for the museum.