International Museum Day 2022!

Every year the International Council of Museums hosts an International Museum Day to celebrate and to raise awareness about the potential of museums to be powerful social actors. 

Every year comes with a theme for us, and for you to reflect on. This years theme is Power, defined below

  1. The power of achieving sustainability: Museums are strategic partners in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. As key actors in their local communities, they contribute to a wide variety of Goals, which include fostering short-circuit and social economy and disseminating scientific information on environmental challenges.
  2. The power of innovating on digitalisation and accessibility: Museums have become innovative playing-grounds where new technologies can be developed and applied to everyday life. Digital innovation can make museums more accessible and engaging, helping audiences understand complex and nuanced concepts.
  3. The power of community building through education: Through its collections and programmes, museums thread a social fabric that is essential in community building. By upholding democratic values and providing life-long learning opportunities to all, they contribute to shaping an informed and engaged civil society.


The delightful, optimistic, and generally expansive assessment of the power of a museum articulated by this year’s summary of ICOM’s International Museum Day theme reminds us all of the potential that lies within these walls. What it does not recognize however is that with great power, comes great responsibility.  

Every object that comes into the museum comes with the shadow of lives that it has intersected with. An object without a story, is just that, an object. We need the story. In many cases the object itself is merely an anchor to wrap the story around, to ground it in such a way that it is tangible, and accessible. 

What we then receive, is not only an object and an accompanying story, but a responsibility to the owners of that story. We have the power to choose how it is displayed, and how the story is told. Our selection of words, perspectives, and narratives decides the nature of the memory that the community has.

We also speak with a degree of authority, and although we recognise that we are all human, and all of us are fallible, we are none-the-less, by virtue of our position, in a position of power to decide what is remembered as fact, and what fades away into the past.

Power is a wonderful thing, especially when directed at the noble aims of ICOM, but responsibility is a burden that accompanies it.

We are the keepers of your memories, your stories, and your treasures. The power that these things hold is not to be underestimated, and we do not underestimate our responsibility to you, the community, to tell truth and to reflect the desires of those who were so generous to gift us with their treasures.


Henry Buckenham