In a museum context, all objects that are representative of the activities of practical life have meaning because they represent the view and outlook of a cultural group on its habitat. They can be viewed as indicators of these connections between habitat and humanity, defined as symbols, norms and rules of behaviour, values and objects. Thus cultural ecology of a society is comprised of at least three distinct elements:

  • What people think or what ideas they uphold;

  • What material products or aesthetic forms they create, which largely moulds the tradition of the past and the aspirations for the future.

  • What values they pursue;

Ideas give rise to habits and beliefs, thereby perpetuating themselves through social institutions that provide stability.

Aesthetic forms reflect the artistic expressions of a culture in its visual arts, music, poetry as well as the sense of beauty manifested in the day-to-day living of individuals and social groups.

The values of a culture are formed within the human consciousness by the interplay of both ideas and aesthetic forms and provide norms of conduct, standards of behaviour, and sources of faith and vision.

Of these three elements of culture, the values are of the greatest importance. Values develop the precious assets of wisdom and discrimination in specific culture; and they also provide the dynamism for action and change, and impart vitality and quality to the life of the people. Therefore, an understanding of a particular culture requires a correct comprehension of the ideas underlying it and a measure of intelligence of its aesthetic forms. It is, however, the values of a culture that contain its essence and offer the best way of understanding it and participating in it. A living, vital culture is rooted in authentic and healthy traditions, which have the capacity of continuous renewal and adaptation, and are developed by new aspirations and bold innovations. Museums are the fulcrum of a culture because the past, the present and the future are reflected together. The humanities, the arts, the sciences and the technologies, the network of communications and relationships, the magic of poetry and the transcendence of religion, all these spheres of the activities of practical life and self-speculation, form the pattern of culture. The rich and fascinating diversity of these patterns is a precious heritage of mankind that museums preserve and develop.