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My question is why do the English say "Harvard University" or "Manchester Airport" but "the Guggenheim Museum".

According to the book English grammar in use — the blue one — when the first word is a name of a place or a person we don't use "the" but why do we say "the Guggenheim" despite the fact that it's a surname?

PS: I'm not so sure if it's OK to share a screenshot of the related page but it's on page 156. unit 78.

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  • @orhan Is English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy? If so, please edit that in, together with the edition/year of publication. Rather than a screenshot, please type out the relevant bit and use > to indicate a quote.
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 4, 2022 at 16:56
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    – tchrist
    Feb 5, 2022 at 21:33

2 Answers 2

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It's idiomatic. Museum carries different expectations around the article compared to, say, university.

For example, when using university names of the form X University, the article is usually omitted. For instance, the set of Ivy League universities follows this convention:

Harvard University

Brown University

Columbia University

Cornell University

Princeton University

Yale University

One might refer to an object or entity associated with the university using an article (The Harvard University Register, The Harvard University Band), but it would be immediately conspicuous to say the Harvard University and not follow up with another noun phrase (even common ones like crew team or grounds). It's idiomatic.

Museums are different. Museums very often carry an article in their title when called X Museum. For instance, and off the top of my head:

The Victoria and Albert Museum (or the V&A)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (or the Met)

The J. Paul Getty Museum (or the Getty)

The British Museum

In other words, museum has a stronger tendency to adopt the article the even when headed by a name. This is also idiomatic.

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A university or college is a collection of facilities & dorms, making it seem like a “place”, like a city. (“We went to Chicago.”) A museum is typically a single structure, like any other building. (“We went to the Carnegie Library.”)

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    Although we say "The University of XXX".
    – Barmar
    Feb 5, 2022 at 6:40