On May 18, it’s off to the museum. Because always on or around this date to celebrate the world since 1978, International Museum Day (International Museum Day). While in Germany and some other countries the day of honor has become naturalized on the second or third Sunday in May, this museum day of honor is generally set for the date mentioned at the beginning. Reason enough to include this event in the calendar of curious holidays from all over the world and to tell its story in this article. So what is it all about?
Who started International Museum Day?
The aim of this day of action around the museums is to draw attention to the diversity and importance of this cultural and scientific institution. The International Museum Day is coordinated worldwide by the International Council of Museums ( ICOM ) and nationally by its national branches. In Germany, these are the German National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM Germany) , the German Museum Association and the museum organizations of the federal states.
The day of action in Germany is also under the patronage of the current Federal President. Reason enough to investigate the matter – also against the backdrop of Museum Selfie Day on the third Wednesday in January – as part of the curious holidays.
A brief history of International Museum Day
If you take a closer look at the history of International Museum Day, it should first be noted that it was brought into being on May 28, 1977 at the 12th ICOM General Assembly in Moscow with Resolution No. 5, the first official one The celebration did not take place until the following year, i.e. 1978.
This may also explain why in some former Eastern Bloc countries – e.g. B. the former GDR – had already included the International Museum Day in 1977 in the calendar and took this as an opportunity to honor museum employees for their work in the sense of actually existing socialism. But only as a historical side note.
While Museum Day was initially simply celebrated as Museum Day, the ICOM has adopted a changing, leitmotif motto every year since 1992, with which the thematic diversity of the international museum community is to be highlighted and brought to public awareness.
The following main topics have been chosen since 1992:
- 1992: Museums and environment
- 1994: Behind the scenes in museums
- 1995: Response and responsibility
- 1996: Collecting today for tomorrow
- 1997 and 1998: The fight against illicit traffic of cultural property
- 1999: Pleasures of discovery – joy in discovering (first German museum day)
- 2000: Museums for peace and harmony in society
- 2001: Museums: building community
- 2002: Museums and globalization
- 2003: Museums and friends
- 2004: Museums and intangible heritage (Intangible cultural heritage)
- 2005: Museums bridging cultures
- 2006: Museums and young people
- 2007: Museums and universal heritage – in Germany: museums and universal heritage
- 2008: Museums as agents of social change and development – in Germany: Museums and social change
- 2009: Museums and tourism – in Germany: museums and tourism
- 2010: Museums for social harmony – in Germany: Museums for social coexistence
- 2011: Museum and memory – in Germany: Museums, our memory!
- 2012: Museums in a changing world. New challenges, new inspirations – in Germany: world in transition – museums in transition
- 2013: Museums (memory + creativity = social change) – in Germany: remembering the past – shaping the future: museums take part!
- 2014: Museum collections make connections – in Germany: collecting connects
- 2015: Museums for a Sustainable Society – in Germany: Museum. Society. future
- 2016: Museums and Cultural Landscapes – in Germany: Museums in the cultural landscape
- 2017: Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums – in Germany: Searching for traces . Courage to take responsibility!
- 2018: Hyperconnected museums: New approaches, new publics – in Germany: Network Museum: New ways, new visitors
- 2019: Museums as Cultural Hubs: The future of tradition – in Germany: Museums – future of living traditions
- 2020: Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion – in Germany: The Museum for Everyone – Museums for Diversity and Inclusion.
In addition, the initiators also want to offer all museums and their employees around the world a platform at least once a year to jointly point out the importance of their work for the cultural memory of the human community. Accordingly, International Museum Day is used by museums all over the world to draw attention to their own work with special tours, a look behind the scenes, workshops, museum festivals, long museum nights or free admission. In short, the aim is to convey that a visit to a museum is a rewarding and stimulating thing.
The International Museum Day in Germany
In Germany, Museum Day has only been officially celebrated nationwide since 1999 and – the list of leitmotifs above already indicated this – has been given its own variant of the international motto since 2007.
This is actually astonishing, because the museum landscape is characterized above all by an extremely wide range of topics, which is expressed in more than 6,500 different museums, from local and regional museums to numerous privately financed institutions and large state institutions pass.
As already mentioned at the beginning, the organization of the International Museum Day in Germany is spread over several shoulders, with the central coordination of the Museum Day being taken over by the German Museum Association. Another special feature of the German Museum Day is that the day of action has been supported nationwide for a number of years by a number of business foundations.
The largest share is taken by the companies of the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe, which in addition to the Museum Day also support numerous other aspects of museum work with a view to the exhibitions and research work. Due to the Sunday date, Museum Day in Germany has now developed into a kind of family event, whose – mostly free – events try to reach as many age groups as possible.
And who is unable to start for / offering May 18 with the US visit-your-family-day (National Visit your Relatives Day) or the No Dirty tableware tag (National No Dirty Dishes Day) at least two calendar alternatives. Or possible combinations. 😉
In this sense: Have a great international museum day to all of you.