About International Museum Day

Back to the origins of the International Museum Day

IMD in short
Every year since 1977, ICOM has organised International Museum Day (IMD), which represents a unique moment for the international museum community. On this day, participating museums plan creative events and activities related to the International Museum Day theme, engage with their public and highlight the importance of the role of museums as institutions that serve society and its development.

The objective of International Museum Day is to raise awareness on the fact that, “museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples”. Organised each year on and around 18 May, the events and activities planned to celebrate International Museum Day can last a day, a weekend or a whole week.

Participation in International Museum Day is growing among museums all over the world. In 2021, the celebration amplified its impact by the development of hybrid activities all around the world, reaching 89 million Internet users through social media, news articles, blog posts, podcasts and more!

Crusade for Museums

Before officially creating International Museum Day, ICOM gathered the international museum community for a 1951 meeting called Crusade for Museums, to discuss the theme “Museums and Education.” The idea for International Museum Day was inspired by the framework for museum accessibility that was developed at this meeting.

The 1977 Resolution

International Museum Day was officially established in 1977 with the adoption of a resolution during the ICOM General Assembly in Moscow, Russia to create an annual event “with the aim of further unifying the creative aspirations and efforts of museums and drawing the attention of the world public to their activity. ” International Museum Day was meant to convey the message that “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.”

Uniting the museum community on one theme

As the event attracted more and more museums, and increasingly favoured diversity in unity, ICOM suggested a theme for the first time in 1992: Museums and Environment

Creation of a universal identity

In 1997, ICOM launched the first official poster of the event on the theme of fighting illicit traffic in cultural goods. The poster was adapted by 28 countries.

Strengthening communication

In 2011, institutional partners, a website and communications kit for International Museum Day were introduced, marking a turning point for the event. ICOM was also patron of the European Night of Museums for the first time that year, an event that takes place on the Saturday closest to 18 May each year.