Prime Minister Freundel Stuart on a recent tour of the Barbados Museum. At right is the Museum’s Director, Allisandra Cummins. (FP)??

Whether the famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in London with its myriad branches in cities across the globe; Washington D.C.’s Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; or Barbados’ own Concorde Museum, museums have, for centuries, remained sites of fascination for both the young and not so young.

Like most of us, children, adults, retirees and simple pleasure seekers, have all, at various times, frequented these educational fonts to receive glimpses into the past or insights into the future. For the most part, we have all left armed with happy memories, treasured photographs and often costly memorabilia.

International Museum Day (IMD)
, which is observed globally on May 18, throws the spotlight on these well-loved facilities, and allows museum professionals the opportunity to interface with their publics, as well as to ponder their role in the era of new media. Numerous museums across the world are expected to host events and offer free admission to mark the day.

Museums in a Changing World. New challenges, New inspirations
is the official theme selected by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) for 2012, as the observation marks its 35th year.

Noting that today, the world was changing faster than ever with new technology delivering new ideas, gigabytes of information and news of an increasingly unstable climate, ICOM believes the international observation would provide the opportunity to discover and rediscover museums’ future role in terms of sustainable development.

"IMD 2012 is as much about museums growing and shaping their future, as it is about displaying and interpreting new issues like climate change, new media or social responsibility," the international body indicated.

It was in 1977 when ICOM established IMD to encourage public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society. According to the Council, momentum has been rising unabated ever since, with the Day garnering record-breaking participation in 2011, with almost 30,000 museums hosting events in more than 120 countries.

Here in Barbados, Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve will be throwing open its doors for an Open/Cultural Day from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. tomorrow, Friday, May 18. Over 500 schoolchildren are expected to converge at the St. James facility to participate in guided tours, view the Folkestone Redevelopment Showcase and enjoy lively cultural presentations.

In reflecting on the international observation, Manager of Folkestone, John Nicholls, underlined: "It gives museums the opportunity to focus on the role they play in the community in preserving our history and demonstrating new development methods."

Citing renewable energy and climate change as two dynamic areas, which are gaining popularity, Mr. Nicholls explained: "In keeping with this year’s theme, we will also be highlighting new innovations in interpretive presentations. For instance, we are looking at alternative energy utilising photovoltaic cells as part of the development of a sustainable eco-tourism sector."

The Barbados Museum and the National Committee of ICOM today hosted a bus tour with stops at the Museum of Parliament and National Heroes Gallery, the Nidhe Israel Museum and the Folkestone Marine Museum, in observance of IMD.

ICOM is the global organisation of museum professionals, comprising representatives from 137 countries and territories, who are committed to the conservation, continuation and communication of the world’s natural and cultural heritage, present and future, as well as tangible and intangible.

For further information on IMD, persons may visit the IMD 2012 official website at http://imd2012.icom.museum.


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