International Museum Day

Quick Facts - CA

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2024 DateMay 18, 2024
2025 DateMay 18, 2025

International Museum Day

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International Museum Day History

International Museum Day (IMD) is an annual celebration that aims to raise awareness about the crucial role museums play in developing society, preserving cultural heritage, and fostering education and dialogue between diverse communities. Observed worldwide, this special event offers the perfect opportunity for people of all ages, background, and interests to connect with their local and global histories, engage in immersive experiences, and strengthen their community ties through the transformative power of exhibits, workshops, and interactive programs.

The origin of International Museum Day dates back to 1977 when it was established by the International Council of Museums (ICOM). Over the years, IMD has grown in scale and popularity, with thousands of museums participating in more than 150 countries. Each year, the council proposes a unique theme that highlights a global priority or challenge, allowing museums around the world to showcase their collections, expertise, and missions while addressing contemporary issues like sustainability, accessibility, or digital technology. Through this collaborative effort, IMD plays a key part in fostering international cooperation, cultivating cultural exchange, and promoting the importance of cultural preservation in the face of rapid change and global challenges.

In Canada, as in other countries, International Museum Day is observed annually on May 18th, inviting Canadians to explore and discover the rich and diverse world of museums. Participating institutions often curate special events and offer reduced or free admission, making it an accessible and inclusive opportunity for community members to connect with their heritage, broaden their horizons, and celebrate the invaluable contributions museums make to the social and cultural landscape of the nation.

International Museum Day facts

  • The theme for International Museum Day in 2024 was Museums for Education and Research.
    In 2023 the theme was Museums, Sustainability and Well-being.
  • In 2023, the International Council of Museums estimated that there were 104,000 museums around the world.
    In 2022, There were about 95,000 museums around the world according to UNESCO.
  • The oldest known museum in the world is the Ennigaldi-Nanna's museum, built by Princess Ennigaldi in what is now modern-day Iraq in 530 BC.
  • According to a 2020 report by the Canadian Museums Association and Oxford Economics, museums in Canada generate $8.6 billion in GDP and support 159,000 full-time jobs.
  • The Canadian Museum of History, located in Gatineau, Quebec, is Canada's largest museum. It showcases over four million artifacts, including the world's largest indoor collection of totem poles.

Top things to do in Canada for International Museum Day

  • Browse the International Museum Day 2021 reading list. The collection focuses on the theme, the future of museums: recover and recreate.
  • Find a museum near you. Museums offer a lot of information about a variety of topics. Find one near you and spend the day learning something new.
  • Watch a documentary to learn more about Museums in Canada:
    The Museum: A Documentary Series (2017) - This documentary series offers an exclusive look behind the scenes at the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada's largest museum of world culture and natural history.
    National Gallery (2014) - Directed by Frederick Wiseman, this documentary provides an in-depth look at the National Gallery of Canada, showcasing the gallery's remarkable collections and exploring the role of museums in society.
  • Visit some of Canadas popular Museums:
    1) Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) - Toronto, Ontario
    2) Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) - Toronto, Ontario
    3) Canadian Museum of History - Gatineau, Quebec

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