International Museum Day (IMD) is celebrated on 18 May every year. The objective of this day is to raise awareness of the fact that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” Participation in IMD is growing among museums all over the world. In 2015, more than 35,000 museums participated in the event in some 145 countries.
This year the Whanganui Regional Museum is closed for seismic strengthening and cannot offer an IMD programme. We do urge you, however, to explore the theme for IMD and give some thought to how museums might deliver responsible messages through their exhibitions, education and public programmes and their publications.
The theme for 2017 is:
Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums
We define ourselves through important and fundamental historic events. Contested histories, or historical interpretations of human conflict and war, are not isolated traumatic events. These histories, which are often little known or misunderstood, resonate universally, as they concern and affect us all.
Museum collections offer reflections of memories and representations of history. This day will therefore provide an opportunity to show how museums think about and depict traumatic memories to encourage visitors to think beyond their own individual experiences.
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.
Acknowledgement and thanks to International Council of Museums for information, text and media support.