5 min

On International Museum Day, we join thousands across the globe in celebrating this year’s theme, “The Power of Museums.”

Below are a few examples from the Tessitura community of ways today’s museums make the world better.

1. They help us understand our world and amplify its many voices.

Museums not only preserve our history but also help us better understand it. The American Museum of Natural History in New York partnered with Indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada to update its Northwest Coast Hall. Advisors helped museum curators decide what the exhibit should and shouldn’t include. They helped place historical pieces in conversation with contemporary artists inspired by them. According to the Associated Press, “Members of the Indigenous nations and museum staff who took part in the process said it showed what’s possible in terms of collaboration and listening to Indigenous voices.”

2. They innovate engagement.

Many museums experimented with approaches to audience engagement during the pandemic. England’s Black Country Living Museum in Dudley launched a new TikTok account. Since 2020, it has grown to more than 1.3 million followers and earned 21.9 million likes. Educational videos featuring actors as historical characters reach a global audience. They also give the museum a new way to fulfill its mission. According to staff, “We’re a visitor attraction, but we’re also a museum. It doesn’t matter if our audience is a ticketholder or if they are getting the information through TikTok. We’re fulfilling our mission to educate the public about our history. It has given us a worldwide reputation.”

3. They serve as essential education partners.

Museums play an important role in filling educational gaps for young people. In the U.S. alone, museums spend more than $2 billion per year on education programs. At the High Museum of Art, more than 40,000 children have participated in the smARTbox initiative. It offers monthly activities linked to art in the Atlanta museum’s collection or exhibitions.

University students receive real-world experience at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. In the Movie Mogul project, they curate films for the museum’s streaming service, Cinema 3.

4. They improve our health.

Studies prove skills-based arts education programs offer many benefits for older adults too. They increase their emotional well-being, reduce isolation and improve cognitive functioning. Smithsonian Associates is the world’s largest museum-based education program. In 2019, the Washington, D.C., museum launched its Boomer Chorus. Singers (and first-timers) ages 55 and up come together with nothing more than a shared love of music.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art provides interactive enrichment for visitors with dementia. Met Escapes feature both discussions about art and art-making activities.

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Museums serve as essential resources and important gathering places in our communities. We’re proud to partner with these museums and many others to help power their missions.

Top photo: Black Country Living Museum