2020 – Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion

With the theme Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion, International Museum Day 2020 aimed at becoming a rallying point to both celebrate the diversity of perspectives that make up the communities and personnel of museums, and champion tools for identifying and overcoming bias in what they display and the stories they tell.

International Museum Day 2020 by Justine Navarro is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The potential of museums to create meaningful experiences for peoples of all origins and backgrounds is central to their social value. As agents of change and trusted institutions, there is no time like the present for museums to demonstrate their relevance by engaging constructively in the political, social, and cultural realities of modern society.

The challenges of inclusion and diversity and the difficulty of navigating complex social issues in increasingly polarised environments, while not unique to museums and cultural institutions, are important ones, due the high regard in which museums are held by society.

An increasing public expectation for social change has catalysed a conversation around museums’ potential for social good in the form of exhibitions, conferences, performances, education programmes, and initiatives created. However, there remains much to do to overcome conscious and subconscious power dynamics that can create disparities within museums, and between museums and their visitors.

These disparities can relate to many topics, including ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and identity, socioeconomic background, education level, physical ability, political affiliation and religious beliefs.

Following the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdowns, we decided to adapt the format and focus on digital activities, to promote the values of IMD while ensuring the safety of the public and staff alike. Despite the limitations imposed by a digital-only format, #IMD2020 activites reached more than 83 000 000 users on social media, on May 18 alone!

We have collected some of our favourite reinterpretations of the International Museum Day 2020 poster. Thanks to all participants and museum lovers who championed #Museums4Equality with us!

Credits@ ICOMColombia; @ ICOM Iran; @ BirKultur-Kizilcasar Gallery, Turkey; @ National Museum of History, Taiwan; @ MarieFrancoiseDelval; @ Museo de la Universidad del Rosario, Colombia