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International Museum Day

Posted: May 18, 2021

By: Cathy Mori, Youth Associate

When I was growing up, one of our family’s favorite things to do was to visit the Museum of Science and Industry. This was back when the museum was free, so we went often. My siblings and I each had our favorite exhibit that we made sure to visit each time we went to the museum. When my children were little, we enjoyed visiting the DuPage Children’s Museum and the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. My brother and his family had a fun system: every year they would purchase a different museum pass and visit as often as they could during that year. One year it was the Shedd Aquarium, one year it was the Field Museum, another year it was The Morton Arboretum.

During May we celebrate International Museum Day. According to the International Council of Museums, the objective is to “raise awareness on the fact that, ‘museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.’” So many museums have now made virtual visits a reality. Last year, even with closings due to COVID-19, 83,000,000 people visited museums virtually on May 18.

Did you know you can now make a virtual visit to the Louvre Museum in Paris to see the Mona Lisa? And you can explore much of Smithsonian’s collection from the comfort of your couch. 

If you choose to travel, there are some interesting museums you might want to consider visiting.

  • How about the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., where you can view some cool spy gadgets and learn about secret codes? Or how about the UFO Musem in Roswell, New Mexico where in addition to UFOs, you can learn about Area 51 and crop circles?   
  • Do you like SPAM? There’s a SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota. 
  • Or maybe you prefer ramen? There are two ramen museums in Japan. The Shin-Yokohama Rāmen Museum is a great place to experience a variety of ramen flavors and even make your own ramen noodles. The Cup Noodle Museum in Osaka celebrates the invention of instant ramen noodles.   
  • How adventurous are you? The Underwater Museum of Art in Cancun, Mexico can only be reached by scuba diving! 
  • Want to stick closer to home? Use a Museum Adventure Pass to visit participating Chicago area museums and other cultural destinations for free or with a special discount. 

In the meantime, the National Day Calendar website offers these suggestions for celebrating #InternationalMuseumDay: 

  • Find museums that offer virtual tours online. 
  • 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”, “Ghostbusters”, or “National Treasure”. 
  • Create awareness for the day by sharing your favorite museum on social media with #InternationalMuseumDay or #IMD.