The 2008 edition of International Museum Day was held on May 18. Several days prior to the event, UNESCO issued the following message: “As an advocate for museums and safeguarding works of art and museum objects since its founding in 1945, UNESCO joins its long-time partner the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in encouraging museums around the world to celebrate "International Museum Day" on 18 May.”
The theme for this year’s event was Museums as agents of social change and development. As UNESCO noted, the theme “highlights UNESCO’s conviction that movable cultural objects and the museums in which they are preserved are exceptional repositories of cultural diversity and make possible an integrated approach to, and understanding of, the cultural heritage.”
International Museum Day has been celebrated since 1977. Traditionally, many museums participate by offering free admission and extended opening hours. “In light of this year’s theme “museums [were] also encouraged to create new opportunities for social gatherings and events with community organizations and associations as well as to participate in a 24-hour debate on social change and development”.