May 18th marks International Museum Day, a celebration of the global museum community. The International Council of Museums designated the day in 1977 to emphasize the role museums play in cultural exchange. The original designators aimed to share the message that “museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” Each year, institutions around the globe mount programming following a shared theme.
This year, International Museum Day is dedicated to “Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion.” This theme centers the idea that museums can be agents of social change; museums can create meaningful experiences for people of many backgrounds and engage with modern social issues. However, as ICOM recognizes, there are still power disparities within museums that the community needs to better address. Museum Day 2020 is dedicated to conversations on how to address such disparities.
While the scope of the celebration is global, you can get participate from your home. With the outbreak of COVID-19, International Museum Day content has gone digital. More than eighty museums throughout the world have shared items from their collections on Google Arts and Culture for the event, including the Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and the National Museums of Kenya. Other content can be found on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #IMD2020.