Int'l museum day

Added On May 20, 2017

May 18 was International Museum Day, with celebrations taking place around the world.
The global event looks to raise awareness of the importance of museums in the development of society.
This year, the event celebrated the theme "Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums."
Today's Lifestyles takes you to a variety of international museums, to dig into the unusual stories behind them.
Our first stop is in Kabul, where the National Museum of Afghanistan has spent many years battling to stay open in a country wracked with war. 
But today, the situation has markedly changed. 
Let's take a look.
The National Museum of Afghanistan .
Built in 1919, and once a popular place for its rare collections, preserving regional cultural heritage dating back several millennia.
But during the 1990's, more than 70 percent of the 100,000 objects on display had been destroyed or looted during the destructive factional fighting taking place across the country.
One of the lowest ebbs came in 1996, when the Taliban group captured Kabul, and hardliner militants vandalized the remaining treasures inside the museum.
SOUNDBITE: MOHAMMAD FAHIM RAHIMI, Afghanistan National Museum Director
 "The situation of the National Museum improved markedly compared to the past as it has been rehabilitated and efforts are underway to further improve its state of affairs...Currently we have about 5,000 artifacts and statues in the museum, and we are trying our best to collect all the objects of the museum lost in the past and bring them back." 
Like many institutions in Afghanistan, the museum has been trying to build itself back up, and find the thousands of valuable relics long smuggled overseas.
SOUNDBITE: MOHAMMAD FAHIM RAHIMI, Afghanistan National Museum Director
"Around 30,000 items belonging to the museum have been retrieved from different countries since 2002. Since 2007, around 7,000 valuable relics have been returned from Japan, Britain and Germany."
With the vaults once again filling, Rahimi describes the museum's future as "promising".
Last year, 102 pieces were returned from Japan and efforts to further replenish the museum with its original artifacts are ongoing.
Currently, more than 200 people including Afghans and foreigners visit the museum every day.
The director sees the museum as having an important place in Afghan culture, beyond just being a showcase for ancient artifacts.
"In fact, museum is the repository of our past civilizations which forges our national identity, therefore, it is the responsibility of the government and all Afghan citizens to preserve their history by protecting and preserving the national museum." 
From Afghanistan to Spain, where a special "night of the museums" event is taking place in Madrid.
The event gives visitors the chance to get up close and personal with some of the city's most famous works of art. 
And in one museum, visitors can even get inside the painting itself.
Madrid museums are open their doors this weekend with the 40th anniversary of "the Night of the Museums".
The event sees all the museums across the city offer free entrance, until the early hours of the morning.
They include the famous Museums such as the Thyssen Art Gallery once home to the world's second largest art collection... the Reina Sofia, home to Picasso's Guernica painting... and the Prado, which is considered to host the best collection of Spanish art... as well as dozens more small or fascinating museums.
SOUNDBITE: EVELIO ACEVEDO, Managing Director, Thyssen Art Gallery 
"I think the night of the museums is very useful to help remind society of the role that museums play. These days it is not just conserving the collection and the art. We have a very important role in society, which is vital in education and in transmitting knowledge."
Thanks to the use of technology, the Thyssen Art Gallery is even providing visitors the chance to literally get inside some of their famous paintings
SOUNDBITE: EVELIO ACEVEDO, Managing Director, Thyssen Art Gallery
"We think it is a different way to celebrate and also to attract young people. They want to be close to us and we want to take care of them."
The Night of the Museums also offers a range of supplementary events, including conferences, concerts and film screenings. 
To South America now, and the Brazilian city of Curitiba... where they are holding an unusually assembled exhibition in the Museum of Oscar Niemeyer.
All the displayed works have been confiscated from miscreants, as part of the domestic anti-corruption campaign.
The exhibition includes more than 200 art works, contributed by the police, from their anti-corruption investigations. 
Many of the works are by some of Brazil's most famous artists.
"The Federal Court and Federal Police confiscated a large number of works of art in the anti-corruption action, and Museum of Oscar Niemeyer was selected by them to store these works. The decision was made by the federal judge two and a half years ago, after which these works are transferred here gradually. "
The Museum of Oscar Niemeyer is the largest modern art museum in Latin America. 
Vosnika says the unusual story behind the artworks has helped boost the exhibition's popularity.
"As soon as these works of art were exhibited, many citizens came here to see them because of the special origin. They all showed their respect to the works and the authors. Many people who lacked interest in art would come to our museum, which makes us quite relieved."
In China, more than 100 museums are open free nationwide, as part of the International Museum Day celebrations.
Museums have at some times been written off as old or dusty. One museum looking to change all that, is the Shandong Museum which is launching a digital showroom... where access is online.
Entering the museum, you will be confronted by a huge LED touch screen, showing the shape of things to come. 
Here, visitors can have a 3D experience of the cultural relics exhibited in the museum.
SOUNDBITE: XIE QING, Cultural Relic Enthusiast
"The LED touch screen is quite vivid and explicit. We can see porcelain kilns from all directions. This is more direct than appreciating the relics behind the glass window. We can learn more."
"This is something new. We can know the cultural relics more directly and completely, and we have more interactions with the relics as well."
SOUNDBITE 3 (English): RUTH KENANI, Visitor from Malawi
"You have rich culture, I haven't visited everywhere else. I think you people love your culture. I'm impressed, very impressed."
The online platform, which begun its service on May 18, contains the biggest data size - 5.58 million relics - on provincial level.
It is the first full-featured platform that opens to the public, including cultural relics encyclopedia, digital showrooms and seven other sections.
The platform contains 3D data for nearly 10,000 local cultural relics, and integrates information of more than 400 museums in Shandong Province.
And, if visitors haven't had enough on the day or make it to the museum... they can even continue the journey from home, and appreciate cultural relics through the website and mobile apps.