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May 18, 2021

#IMD2021 International Museum Day 2021: President’s Message

Dear members and friends of the museum community,

Today, May 18th, museums and communities from all over the world are coming together to celebrate the International Museum Day and address the 2021 theme “The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine”. Through its 44 years of history, the Museum Day has become an extraordinary occasion to advocate for the role of museums in society.

This year, the Museum Day comes at a pivotal moment. The Covid-19 pandemic is still storming in many countries around the globe. While some museums have reopened with major limitations, many others stay closed. Our sector is going through the most serious crisis in modern times, with severe economic, social and psychological repercussions.

We can glimpse the end of the tunnel, but incertitude remains great and big challenges still lie ahead. In a scenario marked by the crisis of mass tourism, fewer resources, and persistent sanitary restrictions, many museums have to reconsider their business models and redefine their social and educational role.

One thing we know for certain: recovery is not enough. We must reinvent ourselves and seize the opportunity to build back a better world.  The pandemic has led museums to accelerate change and explore new solutions to transform the emergency into a catalyst for innovations. Need breeds innovation, and this crisis has demonstrated that change is the way forward. We must keep the momentum going. 

The museum of the future is being built today. Every day, even before the pandemic started, museum professionals have experimented with innovative social activities, digitisation and new hybrid forms of cultural experience and dissemination. For the first time ever, over a third of the Museum Day’s registered events are digital or hybrid, opening the door to an unprecedented level of global participation. Global challenges call for global responses. International cooperation is needed now more than ever.

On this Museum Day, ICOM sends a powerful message: museums are bridges between people and cultures, museums promote participation and diversity, museums innovate and experiment to respond to the social, economic and environmental challenges of our troubled present.

On behalf of ICOM, I invite museums, communities, cultural institutions, and governments to act together and reimagine together the museum of the future.

Happy International Museum Day!

Alberto Garlandini
ICOM President