It has become a regular rendezvous for lovers of culture around the globe. International Museum Day, born of an initiative by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in 1977, is celebrated annually around May 18. Each year the global event takes on a different theme and this year’s motto is “Museums in a Changing World: New Challanges, New Inspirations.”
Heralding International Museum Day is the European Night of Museums, which takes place in the form of all-day or all-night events. Originally introduced by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication in 2005, the European Night of Museums is patronized by ICOM and UNESCO and will be celebrated on Saturday, May 19.
Greek cultural institutions have put together a series of special events in view of both celebrations and are inviting the public for free viewings of their permanent and temporary exhibitions as well as special performances and concerts.
ICOM’s Greek branch is paying tribute to a highly active local institution this year, the Goulandris Museum of Natural History -- Gaia Center (100 Othonos, tel 210.801.5870, www.gnhm.gr) in the northern suburb of Kifissia. The key celebratory event will take place on Friday, May 18, starting at 7 p.m. On the same day the museum will be putting together tours of its botanic labs, children’s theater and workshops, among other events, some of which will also take place on Sunday, May 20.
At the Acropolis Museum (15 Dionysiou Areopagitou, tel 210.900.0900, www.theacropolismuseum.gr), celebrations begin on Friday, May 18, with the museum staying open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the restaurant operating until midnight. Also on the day’s agenda is pianist Marios Strofalis, who will be playing Manos Hadjidakis and Mikis Theodorakis songs as of 11 a.m., while his Strofalis Quartet will perform at 7 p.m. On May 19, the museum will stay open from 8 a.m. to midnight (admission will be free from 8 p.m. to midnight), while the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra will be interpreting works by Mozart and Haydn at 9.30 p.m.
On May 18, the Benaki Museum’s main branch in Kolonaki will offer free admission to visitors to its permanent collections (1 Koumbari & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.367.1000, www.benaki.gr) as will its Museum of Islamic Art in Thiseio (22 Aghion Asomaton & 12 Dipilou, tel 210.325.1311), while a number of special offers will be available at the flagship museum’s shop, as well as its Pireos St annex and the Ghika Gallery. The special offers will continue to Sunday, May 20.
The B&M Thecharakis Foundation (9 Vassilissis Sofias & 1 Merlin, tel 210.361.1206, www.thf.gr) will be open from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. on May 19. Among other special events, visitors can see a retrospective exhibition of works by Christos Caras (in the presence of the artist who will be signing copies of the show’s catalog and silk prints), 6- to 12-year-olds can watch a play, while adults can attend a live concert by local singer-songwriter Lolek.
At the Herakleidon Museum in Thiseio (16 Irakleidon, tel 210.346.1918, www.herakleidon-art.gr), doors will open from sunset to midnight on May 19, while musical ensemble Encardia will perform Southern Italian tunes from 8.30 to 10 p.m. Admission is free of charge. A day earlier, on May 18, admission will be free from 1 to 9 p.m., when visitors will be able to discover the relationship between mathematics, philosophy and art through the work of M.C. Escher and Victor Vasarely. A special guided tour (in Greek) of the show will take place from 6 to 8 p.m.
The City of Athens’s Technopolis cultural complex makes its International Museum Day debut on May 18 with a series of free-of-charge events at its Gazi premises (100 Pireos, tel 210.347.5518, www.technopolis-athens.com). The complex will be open from 9.30 a.m. to 11 p.m. while events will range from guided tours of its former gasworks and a photography exhibition, to a screening of Dimitris Stavrakas’s “To Gazi” and a concert featuring the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra.
At the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography (Warehouse A, Thessaloniki Port, tel 2310.566.716, www.thmphoto.gr) doors open for free visits from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on May 18. A tour of the museum’s temporary exhibition, “Oriented and Disoriented in the Middle East (Part A),” will take place from 4 to 5 p.m.