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Every year on May 18, museums around the world celebrate International Museum Day. Organized by the International Council of Museums since 1977, the day brings awareness to museums’ cultural impact and the development of peace among peoples.
Last year, more than 40,000 museums in 158 countries participated by hosting events and offering free admission. This year’s theme is, “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition,” which focuses on the role of museums in society and how institutions reinvent themselves to be more interactive and adaptable to today’s needs.
International Museum Day is a chance for travelers to look ahead to plan museum visits on upcoming trips — or book a vacation just to revisit a beloved museum, or to discover a new one. To help you get started, here are a few new museums that just opened their doors in the past year to visit on your upcoming travels:
The Statue of Liberty Museum in New York City
On May 16, the Statue of Liberty welcomed its new 26,000-square-foot museum. It comprises three gallery spaces, the first being the Immersive Theater, which features a multimedia experience to teach visitors the statue’s story. The Engagement Gallery shows what took place in the warehouse where Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi built the statue, and delves deeper into its history and design. In the Inspiration Gallery, visitors will find the centerpiece of the museum, Lady Liberty’s original 3,600-pound torch, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls revealing views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. The museum will be free to visitors with the purchase of a ferry ticket to visit Liberty and Ellis Islands.
The Shed in New York City
Located in Manhattan’s newest neighborhood, Hudson Yards, this hybrid art museum and cultural space just opened last month. The smartly engineered, innovative structure features a moveable shell that can adapt to support new works as needed by nearly doubling the building’s space. Current programming includes works by artist Trisha Donnelly (through May 19) and immersive installations made in a collaboration between painter Gerhard Richter and composers Steve Reich and Arvo Pärt (through June 2).
National Museum of Qatar in Doha
Opened in March, the long-awaited National Museum of Qatar tells the story of the country’s past, culture and present. Providing a multisensory immersive experience through a 52,000-square-meter floor area, the museum takes visitors through a creative combination of sounds, visuals and even smell through powerful aromas that aide in sharing Qatar’s story. The galleries are housed in a winding structure that was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, who took inspiration from the native desert rose. Along with the gallery spaces, visitors can enjoy a 220-seat auditorium, three restaurants and a gift shop.
Muzeum Susch in Switzerland
Built on the site of a medieval monastery in the Engadin valley, the unique Muzeum Susch opened in January. Founded and created by Grażyna Kulczyk, a Polish entrepreneur and long-term supporter of contemporary art, the space — which features natural Alpine rock throughout — showcases permanent artworks and also temporary exhibitions. The inaugural exhibition, “A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women” (through June 30), focuses on 30 international women artists and explores issues central to feminist theory.
V&A Dundee in Scotland
The only V&A museum in the world outside of London is also Scotland’s first design museum. The geometrical structure, designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, was inspired by the dramatic cliffs along the northeast coast of Scotland. Opened in September, the museum features permanent galleries of Scottish design in 300 exhibits that range from fashion to engineering, and are free for all visitors. An international program of changing exhibitions showcases design from around the world, new design commissions, fast-changing installations by emerging designers and creative projects developed through its learning program.
Museum at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis
Featuring six exhibit areas that tell 201 years of history about the westward expansion of the US, the Museum at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is free for visitors to explore. Opened last summer, the exhibits cover colonial St. Louis, Thomas Jefferson’s vision for the West, new life out West, Manifest Destiny, the Riverfront Era and how the arch came to be built.
Atelier des Lumières in Paris
Paris’ first digital art museum opened last spring and has been a hit for the city. Housed in a former foundry in the 11th Arrondissement, the Atelier des Lumières uses 120 video projectors and a spatial sound system to showcase digital artwork throughout its total surface area of 3,300 square meters; with walls up to 10 meters high. Until Dec. 31, visit to experience Van Gogh’s greatest masterpieces in this larger-than-life medium.
Featured photo by michal parzuchowski / Unsplash.
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