Like a well-stocked museum, this extensive, informed study, combining history, analysis and description, is best sampled a little at a time. On the first day the reader might orient himself to contemporary American museums in general (busting out but ""not carnivals"") through an introduction to their history, organization, finances (not enough), security problems (vandalism, theft); thereafter he might proceed directly to the type of his choice--art or history or natural history or science and industry. Here he Will find an account of the origin and development of the particular type, considerable information about, what is collected, why and how (including case studies), a detailed description of the assembling of exhibitions, and some mention of education and research activities. Intended as an assist to intelligent visiting also, this provides some cursory clues to understanding art, is much stronger when it comes to artifacts (armour and period rooms in art museums), historical memorabilia and scientific specimens. Interesting specifics abound: historical collections lack the commonplace, would trade ""ten ballgowns for one housedress;"" some zoological species are completely collected and catalogued but ""for every insect that has been described, ten have not."" Obviously this is a challenge--and youngsters who want to take it up will find information on museum careers, complete with a list of training opportunities, in the last chapter. Considered as investigation or incentive, this should interest a wide range (if not a vast number) of readers--there's nothing quite like it for adults either.