The International Museum Day on the 18 May was celebrated for the first time in 1978. The International Council for Museums (ICOM) took its decision about it at the Eleventh Conference General held in Moscow in 1977. Since 1992 the International Museum Day has had different specific themes. The theme for 2010 is “Museums for Social Harmony”. The event provides the opportunity for various initiatives presenting museums as an important means of cultural exchange and enrichment promoting communication, understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples. ICOM defines museums as 'an institution in the service of society and of its development' and the events organized at or about 18 May provide the opportunity for museum professionals to meet the public and alert them to the challenges that museums face in our globalized world.
On this day, museums provide the public with free access to the cultural heritage and to the various initiatives organized.
The European Heritage Days started in France during the 80s of the 20th century. The initiative “Open Doors Days” was launched there providing access to cultural heritage sites. Gradually, other European countries joined, each of them contributing to the diversity of the Heritage Days.
Since 1991, the European Heritage Days have become a joint action of the European Council and the European Union celebrated in almost all European countries.
Bulgaria has participated actively in the EHD since 1999. There is a specific theme for every year and 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity.
Since the first year of EHD in Bulgaria, the Regional Museum of History Stoyu Shishkov, together with the municipality and other partner organizations, has been developing and implementing programmes targeted at the local community and at visitors to the town and the municipality.
In 2001, Smolyan hosted the official launch of the national campaign “European Heritage Days” under the motto “Different ethnicities and religions – a common heritage” (28-30 September 2002).
Over the recent years the Regional Museum of History Stoyu Shishkov, Smolyan has been increasingly active in the development of diverse educational programmes targeted at various age, professional or social groups. The museum initiatives offer opportunities for workshop activities, museum research, field work, reproduction of authentic folklore traditions, all these with the purpose of kindling the interest in the national, local or traditional culture.
The museum instructors or experts at the respective departments implement the educational programmes in partnership with various institutions and organizations.
Some of our educational programmes are regular: programmes related to calendar holidays and traditions, public holidays, important dates, events or persons such as the annual celebration of May 9th , the Day of Europe, May 18th, the International Day of Museums, the European Heritage Days every September and others. The Young Researchers Museum Laboratory is another long-term educational programme for history and tourism students at the local universities and for high school students interested in history, archaeology and local studies.
These educational programmes, developed and implemented by the museum, help enlarge the the participants' knowledge, research and analysis skills, and creativity. They also are a rewarding entertainment for one's free time.
Current educaional programmes