International Museum Day is an occasion to raise awareness of the importance of museums for the development of society.
Coordinated by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the global event has been celebrated worldwide around May 18 every year since 1977 and highlights a specific theme that is of interest to the world museum community.
This year, the event will celebrate the theme "Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums."
"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," the ICOM said.
Museums record history and allow us to remember important things in the past and to make better decisions for the future. It is also about education, showcasing culture and bringing people together.
Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, on Monday invited the partners of leaders attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to tour the Palace Museum in Beijing, which is a solid example of cultural exchange.
Czech President Milos Zeman on Tuesday visited the Memorial Hall for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre in east China's Jiangsu Province, which commemorates the more than 300,000 Chinese lives taken by Japanese invaders when they occupied the city from Dec. 13, 1937.
"Museum collections offer reflections of memories and representations of history. This day will therefore provide an opportunity to show how museums display and depict traumatic memories to encourage visitors to think beyond their own individual experiences," the ICOM said.
"History is a vital tool for defining a given people's identity, and each of us defines ourselves through important and fundamental historic events," the ICOM added.
Since its creation by the ICOM in 1977, International Museum Day has been steadily gaining attention and popularity around the world.
In 2016, the International Museum Day garnered record-breaking participation with more than 35,000 museums hosting events in some 145 countries, according to the ICOM.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Before officially creating International Museum Day, the ICOM gathered the international museum community for a meeting called Crusade for Museums in 1951 to discuss the theme "Museums and Education."
The idea for International Museum Day was inspired by the framework for museum accessibility that was developed at this meeting.
International Museum Day was officially established in 1977 with the adoption of a resolution during the ICOM General Assembly in Moscow, Russia to create an annual event "with the aim of further unifying the creative aspirations and efforts of museums and drawing the attention of the world public to their activity," according to the ICOM.
International Museum Day was meant to convey the message that "museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples," it added.
This year, International Museum Day is celebrated in various forms and with special activities around the world, such as guided tours, museum walks, workshops seminars, film screenings and treasure hunts, among others.
To attract more visitors, a lot of museums are offering free admission during this special event to allow more people to enjoy, explore and become involved in art, history and culture.