International Museum Day
On May 18th 1969, Apollo 10 was launched and Elizabeth Montgomery, the actress famously known for the role of Samanta on Bewitched passed away on May 18th 2005 but did you know that since 1977, the 18th of May is known as the “International Museum Day”? The event is celebrated around the world and this year’s IMD, “Museum and Memory” literally has thousands of partners doing their part in the project. The entire list of participating museums can be found on the World Museum Community website, which I will link at the bottom.
While I didn’t get to visit the lone Dutch museum taking part in IMD, I do have to admit that museums have been a guilty pleasure of mine for the longest time. With school, I visited a good amount of Canadian museums in Quebec City, Montreal & Ottawa and that definitely triggered some kind of an interest later in life as I tend to hit at least one museum everywhere I go. My discovery of international museums began with the British Museum and The Louvre, which are arguably two of the biggest, most famous museums in the world; setting a very high standard for the future museums I visit.
Strictly speaking about museums, in the classic sense of the word, those two still have a very important place in my head and although they hardly need more publicity, I thought highlighting a few points for each of them was a good way of celebrating International Museum Day.
The British Museum
I could not have set the bar any higher on my first day in England and even today, looking back at the pictures I took seven years ago, I still feel the exact same way I felt when I stood in front of the impressive building. The sheer size of the museum is surprising and the fancy interior is absolutely breathtaking. It’s no wonder people wander around the lobby and take pictures before even being inside the museum.
The most famous piece inside the actual museum is arguably the Rosetta Stone; which is the tool originally used to translate hieroglyphs. The museum’s key piece is easy to find although a little on the small side, which means there is very little chance of managing to snap a picture without a random tourist, or at least a body part, in the way.
In terms of collections, the museum has a very impressive amount of Egyptian pieces, ranging from tiny sharps of stone to gigantic vases, sarcophagi and statues.
Scheduling a day at the British Museum certainly isn’t a bad idea as there are so many different rooms and exhibits that you will end up having to pick and choose if you don’t want to spend your entire vacation in the museum.
The best part of it all is that admission to the museum is always free so, in the likely event that you feel like splitting your visit in two, you won’t hold back simply because you won’t have to pay for admission twice.
Think of it as France’s answer to the British Museum and following the French tradition, they made it bigger and better. The museum, made even more famous by Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, is certainly the museum to see while in France and unless you plan on rushing through it to have a few pictures to bring home with you, a whole day is barely enough to see all there is to see.
If I have a single advice when visiting the Louvre it’s; be selective. You can’t see it all. Try and take a look at the website before you visit or grab a map at the entrance and head for the exhibits that you actually want to see. Also, don’t forget that you’ll surely want to spend some time in the famous inner courtyard to catch the perfect picture of the famous glass pyramid before going inside to snap a photo of it’s inverted counterpart.
The famous Venus de Milo, along with Da Vinci’s many paintings, including the always popular Mona Lisa, are some of the very popular pieces in the Louvre so you should expect crowds; especially if you plan to visit on a Friday night when admission is free for those under 26 or on the first Sunday of each month, when it is free for everyone. Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa used to be guarded by security to prevent the painting being damaged by people taking pictures but rumor has it the guards are gone and people can take pictures now.
In a way, there is really nothing like actually visiting either of these museums at least once in your life and if you aren’t a fan of museums to begin with; you are bound to find something you’ll enjoy through the many different exhibits available.