International Museum Day

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2024 Date18 May 2024
2025 Date18 May 2025

International Museum Day

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International Museum Day History

International Museum Day is an annual event that was established to raise awareness about the importance of museums in society. The observance promotes the cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures, and development of mutual understanding, cooperation, and peace among peoples. Museums across the world play an integral role in preserving and showcasing the rich history, traditions, and artistic heritage of various communities. International Museum Day highlights the significant contributions museums make towards fostering education, appreciation, and deeper understanding of the human experience.

The origins of International Museum Day date back to 1977 when the International Council of Museums (ICOM) decided to create an annual event to celebrate museums and their social contributions. The United Kingdom is home to numerous world-renowned museums such as the British Museum, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, and Victoria and Albert Museum. By participating in International Museum Day, people in the UK have an improved understanding of their collective history and the cultural heritage of the nation. It also highlights the important role museums play in enriching the nation's education, tourism, and creative sectors.

In the United Kingdom, International Museum Day is typically celebrated with special events, interactive activities, workshops, and free or reduced-price admission to participating museums. International Museum Day is observed on 18th May, offering the perfect excuse to explore the UK's vast array of museums.

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.
  • The Natural History Museum in London holds over 80 million specimens and is one of the most significant natural history collections in the world. Popular exhibits include the Dinosaurs gallery, a giant blue whale skeleton named Hope, and the Cocoon, which contains millions of insect specimens.
  • The National Railway Museum in York is the largest railway museum in the world, with a collection of over 100 locomotives and almost 200 other rolling stock items.

Top things to do in the UK 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 United Kingdom:
    British Museum: A History (2003) - A documentary that explores the fascinating history and collections of the British Museum in London.
    The Museum: Behind the Scenes at the British Museum (2007) - A BBC documentary series that takes you behind the scenes of one of the world's most famous museums.
  • Visit popular Museums in the United Kingdom:
    1) British Museum, London
    2) Tate Modern, London
    3) National Gallery, London

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