Sunday, 18 May 2008


“Shouldn't a great museum foster serious seeing before all else?” - Mark Stevens

International Museum Day is celebrated every year around the world on the 18th of May. Quite apt today for Art Sunday! International Museum Day has been celebrated since 1977. Each year, a theme is decided on by the Advisory Committee. This year the theme is "Museums as agents of social change and development". The celebration provides the opportunity for museum professionals to meet the public and alert them to the challenges that museums face if they are to be (as in the International Council of Museums definition of a museum) "an institution in the service of society and of its development".

Many events are organised on this day in more than 45 countries around the world, in the spirit of the motto: “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, co-operation and peace among peoples”. Museums, by definition, exist to serve society & its development. Museums can stay open 24 hours a day, offer free entry, and create new areas for social gatherings and events with community organisations and associations in light of this year’s theme for an all night debate on social change & development. For example, see what France is doing this year.

Most people think of a museum as a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are stored and exhibited. The word in English was used from the early 17th century, and taken directly from the Greek where the word was used to denote a university building, specifically one erected at Alexandria by Ptolemy Soter. In Greek, “Μουσείον” (mouseion = ‘seat of the Muses),’ based on “Μούσα” (mousa = ‘muse’). The most famous museums around the world are to be found here. Here is a site with links to many famous museums in the USA. If you desire an even more inclusive list of world museums, go to his link.

Here in Melbourne, we are lucky as there are several museums and galleries, a couple of them world class! There is the Museum of Victoria, the Immigration Museum, the Ian Potter Centre, the Heide Museum of Modern Art, and the jewel in the crown the National Gallery of Victoria. As well as that we have several more and many small galleries and art spaces, justifying Melbourne’s pre-eminent position as the cultural capital of Australia.
Enjoy your Museum Day!

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