Celebrating cultural exchange with International Museum Day

The Explorers Gallery on the upper floor

The Explorers Gallery on the upper floor - Credit: Torquay Museum

Every year since 1977, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has organised International Museum Day, which represents a unique moment for the international museum community to celebrate our amazing cultural treasure houses.

The objective of International Museum Day is to raise awareness of the importance of museums as a means of cultural exchange, of how they enrich our cultural life and develop mutual understanding and cooperation between different peoples.

It is organised around May 18 each year and was first celebrated more than 40 years ago.

More than 37,000 museums now take part in 158 countries and territories around the world.

In many ways it is a great feeling to be part of such a huge global community.  

Last year was like no other year for museums with the cultural sector being among the most affected by the pandemic.

There have been many job losses and some museum closures so staff at Torquay Museum feel lucky to still be operating.

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We switched most of our engagement work to social media and the Torbay Weekly as well as creating 'Windows in Time' exhibition on the streets of Torbay that is free to all.

This year's theme for International Museum Day is 'The Future of Museums: Recover and Reimagine' and we are looking to the future and embracing potential new ways of working, particularly trying to maintain our online and digital work along with this column.

We are also still adapting the physical museum space to meet the needs of the pandemic, so that we can maintain social distancing and appropriate levels of hygiene, which has unfortunately meant the loss of some of our popular interactive elements for small children.

We are still working on interactives for our ‘Secret Museum’ exhibition for this summer and there will be trails and activities for children.     

As with all cultural attractions, we need our audience to reconnect with the museum which reopened this month.

There has never been a better time for local people to visit the museum. We have exhibits for all ages to enjoy, the booking system means we are never too busy and there are no school groups at the moment.

We are also offering 50 per cent off admissions for local people, it’s the perfect way to get out of the house and explore heritage on your doorstep.

You can visit and see the permanent galleries now while we are quiet and your ticket will allow you a year’s entry so you can return to see our spectacular summer exhibition ‘The Secret Museum’ later in the summer.  

You can book your visit through the museum’s website.

New Collections volunteer Harry posing with a very heavy eland trophy head.

New Collections volunteer Harry posing with a very heavy eland trophy head. - Credit: Torquay Museum

A glass negative of the Centenary of Torbay Royal Regatta, August 1913 (PR17591)

A glass negative of the Centenary of Torbay Royal Regatta, August 1913 (PR17591) - Credit: Torquay Museum

Lithograph of Torquay Harbour by Edward Vivian

A lithograph of Torquay Harbour by Edward Vivian - Credit: Torquay Museum