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What Is International Museum Day?

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South View of Michigan Avenue Facade, Art Institute of Chicago

South View of Michigan Avenue Facade, Art Institute of Chicago -- one of the many participating museums in International Museum Day, 2011.

Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.

In 1977, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) established International Museum Day (IMD), which takes place annually about May 18. More than 30,000 museums in 100 countries have participated so far.

International Museum Day is a festival dedicated to the celebration of art, science and history museums all over the world. Some museums will offer special programs. Some museums will be open 24 hours. Some museums will launch a full week or weekend of activities to draw attention to their wonderful collections.

When Is International Museum Day in 2012?

May 18, 2012

What Is this Year's Theme?

In 2012, the theme is "Museums in a Changing World. New challenges, New inspirations."

ICOM explains:

"From America and Oceania to Europe, Asia and Africa, International Museum Day aims to increase public awareness of the role of museums in developing society.

The theme for 2012 is 'Museums in a Changing World. New challenges, New inspirations.' Today, the world is changing faster than ever. New technology delivers new ideas, gigabytes of information, news of an increasingly unstable climate, all shared by social media. Modern museums must compete for an audible voice against the furious pace of this background. Museums in a Changing World is recognition that institutions are faced with interpreting, and existing in, a field that is becoming increasingly fluid. Each may face a unique set of goals, interests and audiences."

Which Museums Are Open all Night?

Since 2006, France has scheduled its La Nuit des Musêes around the time of International Museum Day. In 2012, the festival takes place on May 19th.

Please visit their website to find out when the date will take place next May.

Where Can I Get More Information About IMD?

You can visit the ICOM website and you can look in the local arts listings in your community. Individual museums will post their specific events.

To find a listing of this year's IMD participating museums, please visit the ICOM website.

Do I Need to Buy a Ticket or Pass?

Most events are free. Please consult your local museums for details.

Are There Other Museum Festivals During the Year?

Yes, there are probably hundreds around the globe. For one example, New York City's "Museum Mile" takes place annually. For more information on this, visit their website. As always, check with your local museum to find out which special events they have planned for your community.

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