May 18th is International Museum Day

“The objective of International Museum Day (IMD) is to raise awareness about the fact that, ‘Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.’”

Museums are intended to preserve our history while educating people. The idea is to protect artifacts and honor the accomplishments of our ancestors while teaching us about their mistakes and how to avoid repeating them. They are meant to expose us to people, places, and things we’d otherwise be ignorant to in hopes of helping us to appreciate diversity, see how connected we all are, and to retain the knowledge we have.

“A museum is a not-for-profit, permanent institution in the service of society that researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage. Open to the public, accessible and inclusive, museums foster diversity and sustainability. They operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities, offering varied experiences for education, enjoyment, reflection and knowledge sharing.”

Unfortunately, many museums struggle to remain open, especially smaller ones, and particularly since covid (or during other economic hardships). Their funding comes from different sources: “These might include public government funding (federal or more local), grants, university support, private funding (individuals, corporations, trusts), and donations. Most also receive earned income through investments (including endowments) and through museum activities like admission fees, gift shop sales, and membership fees.”

Today’s observance is about bringing awareness so we all remember the importance of museums and to do our part to visit these facilities. Don’t let our history disappear… Knowledge and technology that is not retained can be lost within 4 generations of time (this is also known as generational amnesia).

The World Is Better Because Of Museums
Learning from the past

First and foremost, museums and galleries provide an insight into the history of humankind. And while no museum can claim to provide a complete picture, the lessons we can learn from past events, wonders and tragedies are priceless.

This is especially true in times of turmoil. Today, it’s impossible to ignore the escalating tensions between nations, between political parties and between different cultural groups. Instead of finding common ground it seems that issues of class, race, gender and environmentalism are becoming ever more polarised.

To help the public re-establish this common ground and learn to build bridges rather than breed division, many believe that museums have a role to play in giving us perspective – be it through intellectual exercises or merely holding up mistakes of the past as evidence of where such behaviour will lead us once more.

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