Scarborough Museums

Museums across world celebrate International Museums Day 2017

Highlighting museums as tools for creating peaceful communities
Thursday 18 May is this year’s International Museums Day (IMD), and is based on the theme of contested histories.

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) established the annual celebration in 1977 “to increase public awareness of the development of society”.

This year, organisations across the world are putting on events celebrating being able to say the unspeakable in museums. Only one museum from the UK is officially listed as joining in: Scarborough Art Gallery, which is looking at the history of the Polish community in Scarborough.

In 2016, 35,000 museums participated across 145 countries, and it is hoped that IMD 2017 will be even more successful, with more than 1,000 activities registered on ICOM’s interactive map.

Suay Aksoy, the president of ICOM, says: “In a world troubled with social, political and economic turmoil and rife with conflict, as calls for closed borders multiply and eyes shut tight to the plights of those seeking to cross them, ICOM holds a unique and privileged position in bridging cultures, through its network of 37,000 museum professionals in 139 countries, representing a veritable microcosm of our planet.

“The museum community takes the occasion of International Museum Day to unite around a socially relevant theme. The theme for 2017 is Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums, because history is a vital tool for defining any people's identity.

“Museum collections offer reflections of memories and representations of history. By focusing on the role of museums as hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people, this theme highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation.

“This theme highlights the significant contribution of museums in modern society. Museums ask fundamental questions about any society, what shapes it or tears it apart, and allow people to face up to historic or current realities and reconcile them.”

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International Museums Day