International Museum Day | May 18
(Last Updated On: May 15, 2023)


Every year on May 18th, International Museum Day provides an opportunity for museum professionals to alert the general public about the importance of museums and the challenges they face.


Museums help to preserve the world’s culture and history. Their role of collecting objects and materials of cultural and historical importance helps us to better understand our heritage. Museums also help to provide an all-important link to the past.

Despite their importance, some museums are on their way to becoming a thing of the past. This is due to the declining number of museum visitors. This is especially true of art and culture museums. In the United States, many museums have suffered financially since the Great Recession in 2008. Due to financial problems, some museums had to close completely. To prevent this from happening, it’s more important than ever to support them.

Some museums, especially some of the more famous ones, continue to do well. The most visited museum in the world is the Louvre. In just one year, 10.2 million people visited this museum. Other museums with millions of visitors a year include:

  • National Museum of China
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC
  • Vatican Museums in Vatican City
  • National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
  • British Museum in London

It may surprise you to know that the country with the highest number of museums per capita in the world is Israel. Other countries with a lot of museums include China, the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Germany.


Thousands of museums around the world participate in this day. Events through the years have included visits and workshops for schools, special performances of plays, music, and traditional dances, seminars with international speakers, and photo contests. Some museums hold events for the entire week.

To participate:

  • Find museums that offer virtual tours online.
  • Learn about some of the world’s most underrated museums including Tobacco and Salt Museum in Tokyo, Mill City Museum in Minneapolis, and the Postal Museum in Prague.
  • Commit to visiting at least one museum every time you go to a new city.
  • Donate a collection, piece of art, heirloom, or money to your local museum.
  • Watch a movie with a museum scene, such as Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Hitch, The Thomas Crown Affair, Ghost Busters, and National Treasure.

Create awareness for the day by sharing your favorite museum on social media with #InternationalMuseumDay or #IMD.


The International Council of Museums (ICOM) has organized an International Museum Day since 1977. During the most recent event, 37,000 museums in 158 countries and territories participated. Each year ICOM comes up with a theme for this special day.

Recent themes include:

  • 2020 Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion
  • 2019: Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition
  • 2018: Hyperconnected Museum: New Approaches, New Publics
  • 2017: Museums and Contested Histories: Saying the Unspeakable in Museums
  • 2016: Museums and Cultural Landscapes
  • 2015: Museums for a Sustainable Society

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