The Development of Museums Reading Questions and Answers

The Blog post contains the following IELTS Reading Questions:

  • IELTS Reading Matching Headings
  • IELTS Reading True/False/Not given. 
  • IELTS reading Multiple Choice Questions

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IELTS Reading Passage – The Development of Museums

The Development of Museums

A. The conviction that historical relics provide infallible testimony about the past is rooted in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, when science was regarded as objective and value free. As one writer observes: ‘Although it is now evident that artefacts are as easily altered as chronicles, public faith in their veracity endures: a tangible relic seems ipso facto real.’ Such conviction was, until recently, reflected in museum displays. Similarly, the information accompanying the objects often made little sense to the lay visitor. The content and format of explanations dated back to a time when the museum was the exclusive domain of the scientific researcher.

B. Recently, however, attitudes towards history and the way it should be presented have altered. Good examples of this approach in the UK are the Jorvik Centre in York; the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford; and the Imperial War Museum in London. In the US the trend emerged much earlier: Williamsburg has been a prototype for many heritage developments in other parts of the world. No one can predict where the process will end. On so-called heritage sites the re-enactment of historical events is increasingly popular, and computers will soon provide virtual reality experiences, which will present visitors with a vivid image of the period of their choice, in which they themselves can act as if part of the historical environment. They already borrow ideas and concepts from one another.

C. For example, museums have adopted story lines for exhibitions, sites have accepted theming as a relevant tool, and theme parks are moving towards more authenticity and research-based presentations. In zoos, animals are no longer kept in cages, but in great spaces, either in the open air or in enormous greenhouses, such as the jungle and desert environments in Burgers Zoo in Holland. This particular trend is regarded as one of the major developments in the presentation of natural history in the twentieth century and, although museums and heritage sites have a special, rather distinct, role to fulfill. Heritage and museum experts do not have to invent stories and recreate historical environments to attract their visitors: their assets are already in place. However, exhibits must be both based on artifacts and facts as we know them, and attractively presented.

D. Those who are professionally engaged in the art of interpreting history are thus in a difficult position, as they must especially given the increasing need in the heritage industry for income-generating activities. For example, Pithecanthropus erectus is depicted in an Indonesian museum with Malay facial features, because this corresponds to public perceptions.

E. Similarly, in the Museum of Natural History in Washington, Neanderthal man is shown making a dominant gesture to his wife. There is one compensation, however, for the professionals who make these interpretations: if they did not provide the interpretation, visitors would do it for themselves, based on their own ideas, misconceptions and prejudices. And no matter how exciting the result, it would contain a lot more bias than the presentations provided by experts.

F.  Castles, palaces and cathedrals have a longer lifespan than the dwellings of ordinary people. The same applies to the furnishings and other contents of the premises. In most of the houses several families lived together in circumstances beyond our imagination. Yet in museums, fine period rods give only an image of the lifestyle of the upper class of that era. No wonder that people who stroll around exhibitions are filled with nostalgia; the evidence in museums indicates that life was so much better in the past. This notion is induced by the bias in its representation in museums and heritage centres.

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The Development of Museums Reading Questions

To solve each question type, you need to be aware of how each question type works. Read the instructions properly before reading the questions and write the development of reading answers. 

Questions 27 – 30 (Matching Headings)

The Development of museums reading passage has six paragraphs, A-F. Choose the correct heading for paragraphs B-E from the list of headings below. Write the correct number, i-vii, in boxes 1-4 on your answer sheet.

List of Headings

  • i. Commercial pressures on people in charge
  • ii. Mixed views on current changes to museums
  • iii. Interpreting the facts to meet visitor expectations
  • iv. The international dimension
  • v.  Collections of factual evidence
  • vi. Fewer differences between public attractions
  • vii. Current reviews and suggestions 


Paragraph A = v

27. Paragraph B
28. Paragraph C
29. Paragraph D
30. Paragraph E

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Questions 5 – 10 (Multiple Choice Questions)

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D. Write the correct letter to the questions  5-10 on your answer sheet.

31. Compared with today’s museums, those of the past

A  did not present history in a detailed way.
B  were not primarily intended for the public.
C  were more clearly organised.
D  preserved items with greater care. 

32. According to the writer, current trends in the heritage industry

A  emphasise personal involvement.
B  have their origins in York and London.
C  rely on computer images.
D  reflect minority tastes. 

33. The writer says that museums, heritage sites and theme parks

A  often work in close partnership.
B  try to preserve separate identities.
C  have similar exhibits.
D  are less easy to distinguish than before. 

34. The writer says that in preparing exhibits for museums, experts

A  should pursue a single objective.
B  have to do a certain amount of language translation.
C  should be free from commercial constraints.
D  have to balance conflicting priorities. 

35. In paragraph E, the writer suggests that some museum exhibits

A  fail to match visitor expectations.
B  are based on the false assumptions of professionals.
C  reveal more about present beliefs than about the past.
D  allow visitors to make more use of their imagination. 

36. The passage ends by noting that our view of history is biased because

A  we fail to use our imagination.
B  only very durable objects remain from the past.
C  we tend to ignore things that displease us.
D  museum exhibits focus too much on the local area.

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Questions 11 – 14 (True False Not Given)

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the Development of Museums Reading Passage?

For the questions 11-14 on your answer sheet, write

  • TRUE    if the statement agrees with the information
  • FALSE    if the statement contradicts the information
  • NOT GIVEN if there is no information on this

37. Consumers prefer theme parks which avoid serious issues.
38. More people visit museums than theme parks.
39. The boundaries of Leyden have changed little since the seventeenth century.
40. Museums can give a false impression of how life used to be.

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The Development of Museums Reading Answers

27. Paragraph B = ii
28. Paragraph C = vi
29. Paragraph D = i
30. Paragraph E = iii
31. B. were not primarily intended for the public.
32. A. emphasise personal involvement.
33. D. are less easy to distinguish than before.
34. D. have to balance conflicting priorities. 
35. C. reveal more about present beliefs than about the past.
36. B. only very durable objects remain from the past.
37. False 
38. Not Given
39. False
40. True


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