Home/News/Yet another successful worldwide edition of International Museum Day on its 39th anniversary

Yet another successful worldwide edition of International Museum Day on its 39th anniversary

Celebrations this year focused on “Museums and cultural landscapes”

Yet another successful worldwide edition of International Museum Day on its 39th anniversary

This year, the worldwide community of museums celebrated International Museum Day (IMD) on and around May 18, resulting in a unique and successful celebration of museums around the world – a moment for museums to celebrate the essence of their being with their visitors. Most museums around the world celebrate with activities, events and free entry for a day, a night or a weekend. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) established International Museum Day in 1977 to increase public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society.

International Museum Day 2016 resulted, once again, in a successful celebration of museums in 111 countries worldwide. This year, the IMD map included more than 2,000 activities, enabling visitors around the world to choose the most interesting museum activities close to their location to celebrate this day. 

Even Google announced its new gigapixel Art Camera just in time for IMD celebrations and activities, sharing a thousand ultra-high resolution images of artworks from artists including PissarroSignacRembrandtVan GoghMonet and many more from museums across the world.

This year the theme was “Museums and Cultural Landscapes”, proposed in the Siena Charter and also at the heart of debates that will take place during the 24th ICOM General Conference, to be held from 3 to 9 July 2016 in Milan.  This theme implies that museums have a certain responsibility towards the landscapes where they are located, to which they are able to bring their own specific knowledge and skills. The main mission of museums is to oversee the safekeeping and protection of the heritage that lies both within and beyond their walls.

In the words of Johanna Regalado, Project manager for the Ethnological Museum of Guayaquil, Ecuador, one of the museums that participated in IMD: “Without a doubt, every year, every IMD brings about great expectations. Families, children, adults, everyone enjoys special activities created for them.”

For the 39th edition of International Museum Day, ICOM President Hans-Martin Hinz was invited to Iran by the country’s National Committee for festivities, visits and events in and around Teheran and Shiraz.  There, he stressed the “strong moral purpose to maintain positive cooperation among diverse peoples and nation,” and celebrated ICOM’s 70th anniversary. 

Geographical scope


In India, IMD was celebrated from the Government Museum in Bangalore, where 55 children from an orphanage turned into tiny archaeologists and excavated beads, pottery and iron pieces from an archaeological site, to the Regional Science Centre in Bhopal, in collaboration with Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, where “My Own Collection” was organised, with a 56 participants displaying their personal collections, ranging from Stone age tools to modern matchboxes.

In Pakistan IMD celebrations took the form of live folk musical performances by young people and cultural diversity shows by children, interactive talks on "Museums and Cultural Landscapes" and multi-media presentations on the role of museums in today's modern world.

In China many museums celebrated IMD, from Shandong Museum to Songjiang Art Museum, Ningxia Museum and Jiangning Museum, with activities ranging from mobile museum exhibitions, educational activities and community activities to the Shaanxi History Museum’s “Greeting” event, highlighting the aesthetic connection between museums and daily life with the dynamic of social media.


US This year The Met joined International Museum Day with “Teens Take the Met!”, granting more than 2000 middle and high school students free admission to participate in classes, workshops and special events designed especially for teens to develop their skills, and connect with art, ideas and other young people. The museum's artist-in-residence, Peter Hristoff, also hosted a “mega-weaving” activity.

Harvard Museum opened its doors for free to all visitors while the The Getty Center celebrated IMD on Wednesday, crowded with visitors flocking to the museum and art center. The day was filled with people intrigued and enthralled by the art around them, making International Museum Day a hit!

Other American museums celebrating International Museum Day included the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Frick Collection.

In Mexico the Museo Universitario “Leopoldo Flores” IMD was celebrated, inviting academics and students to participate with performances, exhibitions, films and more related to the diversity of cultural landscapes, aiming for spaces open to everyone, in keeping with the “Open Art” of Leopoldo Flores. Other countries, such as Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador celebrated IMD with talks on cultural landscapes and events in the most important museums.


In Germany the “Museums Tag” map, in partnership with ICOM Germany, registered 3,632 activities in 1,728 museums, with 62 Berlin museums celebrating IMD with more than 135 activities in the German capital. 

In Switzerland, 250 museums celebrated IMD with events and talks.

ICOM has been a partner of the European Night of Museums since 2011 with more than 3,000 museums participating from 30 European countries (most of them in France).

In Bulgaria, the Regional Museum of History in Plovdiv celebrated IMD with visits to the exhibition “The Fragility of Tolerance: The Salvation of the Jews in Europe during World War II”.  

In Cyprus, the Centre of Visual Arts and Research celebrated IMD with free tickets and the children’s educational programme, focused on “Imaginary Cultural Landscapes of Cyprus” for families and students.

In Spain, the Thyssen Museum opened its doors for free and its temporary Monet exhibition , within the EducaThyssen programme, involved special voluntary guides: non-traditional aged university students, disabled individuals, immigrants, homeless and other populations.  Meanwhile the Centre Pompidou Málaga celebrated the day with free guided tours of selected contemporary artworks related to cultural landscapes and aspects of its identity.


IMD was celebrated in numerous countries from Uganda to South Africa, and, for the very first time, in Togo. In Namibia, in Keetmanshoop, an exhibition on Nama history and culture was funded by the Embassy of Finland and officially launched by Hon. Katrinz Hanse-Himarwa, Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, with the unveiling of a statue by Papa Shikongeni of Tseib, the founder of the town.

Two Nok artefacts were returned to Nigeria marking the celebration of IMD, highlighting the importance of conservation and enhancement of national and cultural heritage, as well as the enhanced roles and responsibilities of museums for national development.  


The National Gallery of Victoria, Australia,  celebrated International Museum Day with a conference entitled “Cultural landscapes, the art of collecting for the public”.  The conference focused on the collecting processes of public and private Institutions, including how galleries make their collections relevant to the public, and how art and design collecting  can build and preserve the cultural landscape.  

A fantastic week of celebrations by museums showed the importance of International Museum Day as a cultural highlight of each year’s agenda.

Please contact icom.presse@icom.museum for further information and/or photos.

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