International Museum Day – May 18, 2023

The world observes International Museum Day on May 18 each year. Since 1977, the International Council of Museums (I.C.O.M.) has celebrated this day annually to pay tribute to the international museum community. Museums are vital venues for cultural exchange and enrichment, as well as for the development of peaceful coexistence and cooperation among nations and communities. This day encourages people to visit museums dedicated to many fields of human endeavor such as agriculture, fashion, astronomy, archaeology, art, and natural history. Together, let us embark on a journey to museums and learn about our historic past.

History of International Museum Day

In 1951, the International Council of Museums (I.C.O.M.) held a meeting named “Crusade for Museums” during which the international museum community debated the theme “Museums and Education.” The strategy for museum accessibility was established at this meeting and served as inspiration for the creation of International Museum Day.

International Museum Day was first observed in 1977 in Moscow when the I.C.O.M. General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the establishment of an annual event to further integrate creative objectives and museum efforts aimed at directing the world’s attention to the contributions of museums to humankind. It also pushes for the idea that museums are channels by which to promote mutual understanding, interaction, and world peace.

Every year, the organization decides on a new theme. Since 1977, all museums across the world have been asked to organize and take part in activities to raise awareness about the importance of museums to society.

Since its inception, International Museum Day has progressively grown in popularity. The number of participants has risen steadily over the last 15 years — a testament to the fact that the study of history allows us to understand how societies behaved.

Today, more people than ever before visit museums all over the world. There are also more people studying history at universities now than at any other time.

International Museum Day timeline

4th Century B.C.
Aristotle Sets Up a Museum

Aristotle establishes a museum at his Lyceum school to collect specimens for his zoological research, which he continues until his death.

1951
Convention Gathers Museum Professionals

The International Council of Museums Crusade for Museums Convention gathers museum professionals from around the world; its theme is “Museums and Education.”

1992
The Choice of Themes Begins

The theme “Museums and Environment” is suggested as the event becomes widespread.

2009
Museums in Over 90 Countries Participate

Over 20,000 museums from more than 90 countries take part in International Museum Day.

2012
More Museums Participate

More than 30,000 museums in 129 countries participate in the global event.

International Museum Day FAQs

How many classes of museums are there?

There are five main classes of museums: general, natural history and natural science, science and technology, history, and art.

What are some of the world’s most well-known museums?

Some of the most popular museums in the world are the British Museum in London, The Guggenheim in New York, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Larco Museum in Lima, the Acropolis Museum in Athens, the Louvre in France, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

What are some of the most well-known artifacts in the world today?

The Rosetta Stone in Egypt, the Elgin Marbles in Greece, the Koh-i-Noor Diamond in India, the Nefertiti Bust in Egypt, the Sion Treasure in Turkey, and the imperial treasures in China are some of the world’s most well-known artifacts.

International Museum Day Activities

  1. Visit your local museum

    Visiting a museum in your community is one of the best ways to mark International Museum Day. You can do this by yourself, or with friends or your children.

  2. Take a virtual tour

    You can visit a museum virtually if you don’t wish to wait in line or deal with crowds. Taking a virtual tour of a museum is in some ways practical as some of the more known museums are likely to be packed with guests.

  3. Share your ideas on social media

    You can share on social media your ideas or opinions about International Museum Day or a museum you’ve recently visited. This motivates other people to visit museums.

5 Interesting Facts About Museums

  1. The British Museum needed a formal application

    For nearly half a century, the British Museum, founded by an Act of Parliament in 1753 and originally situated in a magnificent mansion in Bloomsbury, required visitors to submit a formal application before being allowed entry.

  2. ‘Museum’ comes from the Greek ‘mouseion’

    The word ‘museum’ derives from the Greek word ‘mouseion,’ which refers to temples dedicated to the Muses and the arts.

  3. Egypt museum was the most visited attraction

    Ancient Egypt’s most famous museum, the Museum of Alexandria, was built by Ptolemy I Soter in approximately 300 B.C. and was once the world’s most visited attraction.

  4. Art collections were once status symbols

    A revitalized interest in classical art and architecture prompted affluent merchant and banking families to amass art collections as status symbols during the Renaissance, which marked the establishment of modern museums.

  5. Museology deals with collection curation

    ‘Museology’ refers to the broad and intriguing study of collection curation (the maintenance of objects in museum collections) as well as the display of collections to the public.

Why We Love International Museum Day

  1. Museums educate and inspire

    International Museum Day celebrates the significance of museums in educating and inspiring generations. These institutions collect and safeguard artifacts and specimens which are immensely useful in learning about cultures.

  2. They preserve local culture

    It is in museums that culture is properly documented regardless of what happens to it. They enable people from different cultural backgrounds to understand such culture.

  3. They are a record of our past

    Museums remind us of our past and tell us stories about how nations struggled or were built or liberated from colonizers. They are an account of man’s history since the beginning of time.

International Museum Day dates

YearDateDay
2023May 18Thursday
2024May 18Saturday
2025May 18Sunday
2026May 18Monday
2027May 18Tuesday

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