Museums around the country celebrate their past, present and future this weekend as a number of local cultural institutions take part in festivities marking this year’s International Museum Day.
The International Council of Museums (ICOM) established International Museum Day back in 1977 in an effort to raise public awareness with regard to the key role played by cultural organizations in societies. The annual celebration usually takes place around May 18.
According to an ICOM estimate, 32,000 museums in 129 countries took part in last year’s festivities. This year participating institutions will be exploring the theme of “Museums (Memory + Creativity) = Social Change,” tracing the evolution of institutions as they combine their rich heritage with innovation.
Lectures, guided tours, live music and free admission (until 11.30 p.m.) are on the agenda at the Archaeological Museum of Delphi on Saturday, May 18. The institution was selected by the Hellenic Committee of the International Council of Museums as this year’s honored museum. Museum-goers are also invited to join a guided tour of the area’s celebrated archaeological site on Sunday, May 19, starting at 9.30 a.m.
In Athens, the Acropolis Museum (www.theacropolismuseum.gr) celebrates International Museum Day on Saturday, May 18, with the museum’s doors opening at 8 a.m. until midnight and free admission for all. On the day, archaeologists will acquaint visitors with the fighting cock, the competitive ideal for athletes and fighters in ancient times and the motif behind the museum’s 2013 commemorative medal. During the tours conducted by the archaeologists, visitors will learn more about how as early as the beginning of the 5th century BC, “alektryonon agones” (cockfights) took place annually at the Theater of Dionysus. The 20-minute tours are limited to 25 visitors per session and will take place on a first-come, first-served basis. Those interested in participating are invited to visit the museum’s information desk. Talks are scheduled to take place in Greek at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. noon, 1 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. They will be in English at 10.30 a.m., 12.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. A French tour has been scheduled for 4 p.m. Festivities will conclude in the museum’s entance courtyard with the Orchestra of the Center of Arts and Culture of Dion performing Greek and foreign works starting at 9 p.m.
At the Benaki Museum (www.benaki.gr), International Museum Day will be celebrated from May 17 to May 19. On Friday, May 17, the museum pays tribute to the Crete University Press, as part of a series of events highlighting the efforts carried out by organizations promoting culture outside major urban centers. The event will feature talks by National Bank of Greece Cultural Foundation president Dionysis Kapsalis and Benaki Museum director Angelos Delivorrias, among others.
Inspired by International Museum Day’s 2013 theme, the Benaki Museum celebrates 35 years of creativity at the institution’s shop and invites visitors on a behind-the-scenes journey tracing design from antiquity to the present on Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19. The tribute includes a series of workshops complemented by an exhibition which runs to July 28.
At the Byzantine & Christian Museum (www.byzantinemuseum.gr) archaeologists will conduct a series of guided tours of the cultural institution’s permanent collections on Saturday, May 18. The tours will explore various themes, including “Asia Minor: The Heart of Byzantium” and “Mosaics: From Excavation to the Museum,” among others. Guided tours take place from 6 to 7 p.m. and from 7.30 to 8.30 p.m. The museum is also organizing a series of educational activities on Sunday, May 19. Participation is free for children on Sunday. (Reservations can be made by calling 213.213.059 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.7 on Friday)
The National Archaeological Museum (www.namuseum.gr) is organizing a string of educational activities related to a contemporary mosaic exhibition featuring works by Dafni Angelidou, while the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra will perform on the museum’s premises on May 18.
At the B&M Theocharakis Foundation (www.thf.gr) doors will remain open to the public from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Saturday, May 18. The evening’s cultural program includes two treasure hunts for children, at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., Buenos Aires tango tunes in the foundation’s outdoor space at 8.30 p.m., as well as a screening of Luis Garcia Berlanga’s 1953 comedy “Bienvenido Mr Marshall” at 8 p.m.
In the northern port of Thessaloniki, the city’s archaeological museum (www.amth.gr) is hosting an opera evening on Friday, May 17, followed by a series of guided tours of its temporary exhibition “Trafficking of Antiquities: Stop It,” on May 18 and 19. Events marking International Museum Day are also taking place at the city’s State Museum of Contemporary Art (www.greekstatemuseum.com) and the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art (www.mmca.org.gr).