Make the most of International Museum Day with over 35,000 museums participating worldwide

Make the most of International Museum Day with over 35,000 museums participating worldwide

Participants of a press conference launching Blue Star Museum for the seventh year gather with military family members to enjoy exhibits at Hampton Roads Naval Museum, May 26. Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s active duty military members and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amy M. Ressler/ Released)


By Rindi White

May 18 marks International Museum Day, a celebration in which museums around the world come together to focus on a theme and encourage community participation.

This year, the theme is “Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums.” According to the International Community of Museums, which organizes the yearly event, the theme focuses on the role museums play by becoming hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people, and “how the acceptance of a contested history can be a first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation.”

In 2016, according to organizers, more than 35,000 museums participated in the celebration in 145 countries around the world.

Among the museums celebrating the International Day of the Museum in the United States is the Alamo museum in San Antonio, Texas. The Alamo Museum will have two talks in its historic Cavalry Courtyard to celebrate the day. Find other museums celebrating International Museum Day here.

Military families have another reason to visit museums this summer. Thanks to collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and museums across America, military families can visit a long list of museums for free, through the Blue Star Museums program.

The free admission is available to active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Check the online map to see which museums in your area are participating. The page also links to a Blue Star Museums Parent Toolkit, which has some useful suggestions for parents on how to plan their museum visit, what to bring, how to help children use good museum manners, and games to play during your visit. The toolkit also has suggestions for how to help children remember their visit afterward, by drawing, printing out photos of your visit, checking out books about related topics and more.

Are you a museum supporter or interested in being part of the restoration of artifacts being prepared for museum use? There may be a museum nearby in need of your help!

The National Army Museum is building a state-of-the-art facility to honor soldiers and preserve the history of the nation’s oldest branch of the military. The Army Historical Foundation is taking donations of money or time to help build the museum. Grassroots donations from volunteers going door to door in their community, or fundraising pages in which supporters tell their story of why the museum is important to them are two ways the Army Historical Foundation is seeking support.

The National Museum of the Marine Corps is also adding 115,000 square feet of space, bringing its exhibit space up to date, reflecting the time period between 2005 and the present.

Robert Cramsie, a restoration volunteer and a board member with the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation, poses for a photo with an award from Northrop Grumman representatives for outstanding volunteer efforts in restoring a Douglas SBD-1 Dauntless, during a ceremony at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum Restoration Facility on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., April 21. Cramsie, a retired aircraft mechanic, spent more than 2,500 hours restoring the last-of-its-kind aircraft using blueprints and parts fabricated from scratch. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jake McClung/Released)

Supporting museums can be about more than raising money for new construction. Robert Cramsie, a restoration volunteer with the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, was recognized by Northrop Grumman in San Diego, for dedicating more than 2,500 hours since December 2012 to restoring the Douglas SBD-1 Dauntless dive bomber, using only blueprints and salvaged parts, fabricating parts by hand when needed.

The Dauntless was recovered from Lake Michigan in 1995, where it had crashed during a November 1942 training flight. The plane suffered extensive physical damage and corrosion, and was shipped to several locations before finally finding a home at the Flying Leatherneck museum.

Cramsie is a former aircraft mechanic who currently works at Northrup Grumman as a production environmental test technician.

“When you start with a portion of the aircraft that is trashed and slowly build it, piece by piece, seeing where you started versus where it is when you finish is the most rewarding part of this project for me,” Cramsie said.

Cramsie received the Northrop Grumman Excellence in Volunteerism award from representatives of Northrop Grumman, Mission Systems, San Diego, during a ceremony at the Flying Leatherneck Museum Restoration Facility on April 21. His was one of 11 awards given worldwide by Northrop Grumman in 2017 for hours spent restoring the Dauntless.

“Restoration projects like the Dauntless give members of the community the ability to come and experience a piece of history,” said Col. Jason Woodworth, commanding officer of the MCAS Miramar. “People who come and volunteer here, whether they have affiliation with the military or not, should be encouraged to continue their service because they allow everyone to get close to and touch pieces of our history.”

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