International Museum Day 2016


International Museum Day(IMD), which is on18 May, yesterday, is an annual day of celebration and appreciation of museums and their importance. It is coordinated by the International Council Of Museums(ICOM), which was firsts created in 1946, is the only global organization dedicated to museums, and is composed of museum professionals who are committed to the preservation as well as promotion of natural and cultural heritage past, present, and future.

International Museum Day Highlights a specific theme each year; some popular themes of the past have been, for example, the 2011 theme Museums and Memory, and 2012, Museums in a changing world. New challenges, new inspirations, which was pretty popular in itself, bringing in 32,000 participating museums in 129 different countries. That particular year it was important to go into the topic of a changing world because 2012 was really a pivot point of a year what with all the emerging ideas and technological advances such as, Quantum Computing, Gene Therapy, the Curiosity rover landing on Mars, and even the less sciency but still pretty cool ones like Google Now, voice recognition for Google Voice Search, the Lytro camera, the Microsoft Surface, Windows 8, Google Project Glass, the Iphone 5, and Intel Ivy Bridge Processors, among others.

2012 also happened to be the 35th anniversary of IMD  and a sponsored photo contest was held, which was titled Me in my Museum. Participants took photos of themselves in their favorite museums with the official logo created for the event.

A number of countries organized events for IMD 2012; for instance, Brazil organized events over the course of a week leading up to IMD. For their 10th anniversary of their museum week tradition, exhibitions, guided tours, conferences, and workshops were organized in multiple Brazilian cities. The week provided dances, music, theatre, poetry contests, and more.

Portugal took an even more grand path for IMD 2012 with the opening of the Museo de Falso. The museum was filled with artwork made by contributions of contemporary artists who worked under the premise of Simulacrum: What if a given event occurred differently from how it did? The grand opening of the Museo de Falso aimed to serve as a hub for cultural actors and citizens. Even a few local institutions, as well as ICOM Ivory Coast, organized various events, including discussions, game contests, and guided tours.

Museums’ significance in history started out way back in 1683 when the Ashmolean Museum firsts opened in Oxford. It was the world’s first museum, built in 1678 to house the cabinets of curiosities Elias Ashmole gave Oxford University in 1677.

Now, over 300 years later, museums are still caring for and conserving collections of artifacts and an abundance of other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, and scientific significance and working tirelessly to make these objects available for viewing by the public.

Museums are annually bringing in an attendance of 850 million people, a significant 400 million more than every major league sport and theme park combined, and museum employees and volunteers contribute over a million hours of service a week.

Not only do museums help the economy, they help repay our veterans for their serving our country. Many museums offer programs tailored to veterans and military families. In 2014, more than 2,200 museums participated in the Blue Star Museums Initiative and offered free admission to all active duty and reserve personnel and their families. Some museums will also invite vets to tell their firsthand accounts of events in our nation’s history, and will work with them to bring awareness to ptsd in war veterans.

Still, there are plenty more ways that museums serve the community like providing social services such as programs for children on the autism spectrum, english learning classes, and programs for older adults with cognitive impairments like Alzheimer’s.

Some museums will also facilitate job training programs, provide gardens with fresh fruits and vegetables for low income communities, and serve as locations for family court supervised visits.

Museums, whether they be art, history, or science, are the basis of a community. They employ over 400,000 Americans and directly contribute 21 billion  USD economically, annually, and bring in about 78% of all leisure travelers and tourists.

It’s no wonder why museums are so popular; museums support over 260 field conservation projects with 160 million annually in 130 plus countries. Museums are thoroughly and constantly involved with habitat preservation, public education, field conservation, and are supportive of research to ensure survival for the world’s endangered species. They also conduct research to further scientific knowledge of the animals in human care, and to enhance the conservation of wild populations everywhere.

One museum in particular that is always doing things for education and conservation of wildlife, is the Smithsonian Institution, first established in 1846. The Smithsonian, located in Washington D.C., is the largest museum in the world, with its nineteen museums, nine research centers, and zoo, including historical and architectural landmarks, most of which are located in the District of Columbia; and with its holding of 138 million items, it is referred to as “the nation’s attic”. Amazingly, the Smithsonian’s 30 million annual visitors are admitted for free, leaving the funding to the Institution’s endowment, private and corporate contributions, government support, membership dues, and retail concession and licensing revenues.

That’s not the only impressive museum in the United States; The Metropolitan Museum of Art was first opened in 1872 by businessmen, financiers, and artists who wanted a museum to bring art and art education to Americans.

The Met, located in New York, is home to a permanent collection consisting of art from classical antiquity, ancient Egypt, and an extensive collection of American and modern art. The Met is the largest art museum in the U.S. and has one of the world’s largest art galleries by area. This gallery is located in the main building, on the eastern edge of central park along Manhattan’s Museum Mile, a mile long stretch of various museums.


The considerably smaller second location, the Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in upper manhattan, contains an extensive collection of art, architecture, and artifacts from medieval Europe. The museum is also home to a lot of African, Asian, Oceanian, Byzantine, Indian, and Islamic art, as well as a collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories, along with antique weapons and armor from around the world. It brings in over 6.3 million visitors annually, and is one of the most popular museums in the world.

This year’s IMD was themed Museums and Cultural Landscapes, and the General Conference held by ICOM in Milan, Italy that will be held from july 3 to 9 will be of that same theme. The number of participating countries this year is large with the United States, Argentina, South Africa, Peru, France, Thailand, and many more.

Museums closer to home, though, like the Sheldon Art Gallery or Morrill Hall Museum will be celebrating with downloadable free or reduced passes for admission on the holiday.

To get a more local opinion on International Museum Day, I interviewed some teachers here at LNE. Shannon Marker, an English teacher here at Northeast, had a particularly unforgettable experience at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She said about her experience there, “The Permanent Exhibition at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the most powerful exhibit I’ve ever seen. It tells an important story in a meaningful way.”

Another teacher here at LNE, Leland Jacobs, a history teacher, said that what he remembered most about his first time at a museum when he was just six years old, at UNL State Museum – Morrill Hall, was, “The big fossilized mammoth in Elephant Hall – I was really into that stuff when I was a kid.”

All in all, everyone’s great experience at a museum can be tied into one reason for being; the purpose they serve- as Marker put it, “Museums are important because they provide a place for people to experience things beyond the scope of their local community.” Jacobs had a similar opinion, “They are a great way to remember who we were and who we are, the Smithsonian Institution’s nickname, ‘Our nation’s attic,’ says it all.”