International Museum Day is a celebration that highlights the educational value of museums and encourages people to explore amazing pieces of history. While some individuals may have never visited a museum due to misconceptions or a lack of interest, International Museum Day presents an opportunity to embrace the fascinating form of education that museums offer, regardless of age.
When did it all start?
The history of International Museum started in 1977, by International Council of Museums (ICOM). Each year, a different theme is chosen, and museums worldwide are invited to participate by organizing activities that align with the theme. Over the years, the popularity of International Museum Day has grown significantly, with an increasing number of museums and countries joining the celebration.
Despite living in a technology-driven society, there is a rising trend of people, particularly younger generations, showing interest in history and visiting museums. It is possible that International Museum Day has played a role in cultivating this renewed enthusiasm for history. As we continue to progress, it is vital to preserve our past and use it as a foundation to navigate the future with confidence.
What is happening this year?
The theme for International Museum Day 2023 is "Museums, Sustainability and Wellbeing." Museums play a vital role in the wellbeing and sustainable development of communities. As trusted institutions, they possess the capacity to foster positive change. Museums can address various issues, including climate action, inclusivity, social isolation, and mental health.
How are we contributing?
The Grampian Transport Museum (GTM) has successfully implemented a sustainable strategy since 2014 and continued through the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Cost-of-Living Crisis caused by the Ukrainian war. The museum's efforts were supported by Museums and Galleries Scotland (MGS) and resulted in significant improvements in sustainability and well-being.
Key milestones included insulating the museum's roof, transitioning to LED lighting, installing solar panels, replacing the heating system with air source heat pumps, and implementing water-efficient systems in toilets. The museum also uses eco-friendly cleaning materials and enhanced energy efficiency in the tearoom.
As a result, the museum significantly reduced its carbon footprint, from around 48 tonnes of CO2 per year in 2015 to just 6 tonnes per year currently, representing a reduction of around 90%. The installation of additional solar panels and the replacement of old roller doors further enhanced sustainability.
The GTM project, guided by our new strategy, received immense support from MGS and culminated in the completion of our new measures just in time for the celebration of 'International Museums Day 2023,' with a focus on sustainability and well-being. The museum's success in becoming more sustainable has been attributed to the visionary leadership of the team, as well as the collective efforts of staff, volunteers, and trustees.
Looking ahead, GTM is actively involved in promoting inclusivity and diversity in collaboration with MGS, and they are piloting a program that aims to make positive changes and create a more inclusive and welcoming environment. GTM is grateful for the assistance and support of MGS throughout the transformational journey.
How can we celebrate?
To celebrate International Museum Day, one of the best ways is to visit a museum near you, whether alone, with friends, or with children who can appreciate the experience. Depending on your location, there may be museums related to a wide range of subjects, from farming to fashion, astronomy to archaeology, art to natural history, and nature to transportation. If the museums in your immediate vicinity do not align with your interests, you could consider a day trip to a nearby city to explore a museum that captivates you. Carpooling with friends can make the journey more affordable and enjoyable – whilst reducing the impact of your journey on the environment!
Grampian Transport Museum in Alford offers a treasure trove of transport history. With exhibits that change every season, the museum showcases various vehicles, including chariots from the 1800s and high-speed cars. This year's exhibition features "The Kings' Cars," including the first car owned by the Royal Family. Another highlight is the "It's Electric" exhibit, which explores the past, present, and future of electric vehicles. Notable vehicles on display include the MACK Snowplough, Billy Connolly's Boom Lowrider trike, and the ex-Grampian Police Rover SD1 Vitesse.
International Museum Day is an occasion to appreciate and support the invaluable contributions of museums to our understanding of history, culture, and society. By participating in this celebration, we contribute to the preservation and promotion of knowledge and the advancement of our communities.