International Museum Day 2015: Museums for a sustainable society

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 of 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 on and around 18 May each year, the events and activities planned to celebrate IMD can last a day, a weekend or a whole week.

Participation in International Museum Day is growing among museums all over the world. In 2014, more than 35,000 museums participated in the event in over 140 countries from all continents.

The theme: Museums for a sustainable society

Each year’s International Museum Day theme is proposed by ICOM’s network and aims to promote museum issues within society. In 2015, the event will celebrate the theme: Museums for a sustainable society.

One of the most important contemporary challenges shared by people all over the world is to adapt new ways of living and developing within the limits of nature. This transition towards a sustainable society requires inventing new methods of thinking and acting. Museums play a key role in this transition, promoting sustainable development and serving as real laboratories for best practices. Modern museums must take a strong position in this context and make their voices heard.

The theme Museums for a sustainable society recognises the role of museums in raising public awareness about the need for a society that is less wasteful, more cooperative and uses resources in a way that respects living systems.

Bringing museums to the forefront of this model of a sustainable society, the International Museum Day theme aims to foster awareness among the whole society about the current consequences of human action in our planet and the absolute necessity of changing its economic and social model. 

This year, ICOM and Semantika have partnered to provide museums with an easy-to-use platform for museum promotion. Museums who join the Museums of the World community can use our user-friendly CMS to update their visitor information, add exhibitions, events, educational activities, articles, and even collections. Activities tagged with an IMD2015 tag are displayed on our special IMD 2015 map.

Follow IMD on social media
Become a fan of the Facebook page
Receive updated information in real time as well as the programme of events. When indispensable new information is released, the fans of the page will be automatically informed!

Spot the IMD hashtag on Twitter
Many participating museums have a Twitter account and post news regarding the event in real time. You can spot them thanks to the IMD hashtag: #MuseumDay

A little bit of history
Museum Crusade
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 slogan, 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.

About ICOM
The International Council of Museums (ICOM), created in 1946, is a worldwide organisation of museums and museum professionals. ICOM is committed to promoting and protecting natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible. With more than 32,000 members in 135 countries, the ICOM network is made up of museum professionals from a wide range of museum and heritage related disciplines.

ICOM promotes standards of excellence in the museum field, in particular through its ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, a standard-setting tool for museums, which includes basic principles for museum governance, the acquisition and disposal of collections, and rules for professional conduct. ICOM’s other activities include fighting illicit traffic in cultural goods and promoting risk management and emergency preparedness to protect world cultural heritage in the event of natural or man-made disasters.

In order to carry out these activities, ICOM partners with entities such as ICCROM, INTERPOL, the World Customs Organisation, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and maintains a long-standing collaboration with UNESCO. The UNESCO-ICOM Museum Information Centre, created in 1946, gathers the most comprehensive collection of ICOM publications including ICOM News, ICOM Red Lists, publications by International Committees and conference proceedings.

ICOM’s commitment to culture and knowledge sharing is reinforced by its 31 International Committees, which are dedicated to a wide range of museum specialities and conduct advanced research in their respective fields for the benefit of the museum community. The organisation’s International and National Committees, Regional Alliances and Affiliated Organisations hold conferences and symposiums worldwide that focus on pre-defined themes with a view to fostering exchange among museum professionals of all nationalities. In addition, ICOM organises International Museum Day each year, a worldwide event held on and around 18 May, to increase public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society.