"The International Council of Museums is an international organisation of museums and museum professionals which is committed to the research, conservation, continuation and communication to society of the world’s natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible."
As an expert forum, ICOM defines professional and ethical standards for the museum profession. ICOM makes recommendations in the field of cultural heritage, including as an official advisor to UNESCO, and shares and generates knowledge about the field. ICOM is the voice of museum professionals at the international level and raises cultural awareness by initiating global networks and collaborative programmes. For the 2016-2022 policy period, ICOM decided to focus on the core values of independence, integrity and professionalism.With over 44,000 members spread over more than 140 countries, ICOM is, in short, an invaluable network for us as museum professionals.
Museum Jan Cunen, picture: Almichael Fraay
What is ICOM working on?
As a professional and independent player in the field, ICOM has undertaken important initiatives and activities, including:
- Establishing the Code of Ethics;
- Securing the return of cultural property;
- Cooperating with Interpol;
- Contributing to the professionalization of museum projects worldwide;
- Ratification of the UNESCO ‘70 and UNIDROIT conventions, aimed at stolen or illegally traded cultural objects;
- Establishment of Blue Shield: the ‘Red Cross for cultural heritage’;
- Publication of the Red Lists: an online and printed database of museum treasures stolen from conflict- or disaster zones.
ICOM has more than 30 International Committees. These global think tanks bring together experts on various museum and heritage issues. Participating in these Committees not only enables you to expand your network and broaden your horizons; you also actively contribute to the future of museums. Through their recommendations, Committees set the tone internationally for museum management, conservation and policy, and share their expertise with other members in various publications. They also initiate collaborations between cultural organisations.
Every three years ICOM organises a General Conference, always around a topical theme from the museum and heritage field.
International Museum Day
ICOM has organised the annual International Museum Day (IMD) since 1977, always around a topical theme. On or around 18 May, museums worldwide participate in a variety of activities to bring the social relevance of art and culture to the attention of a wide audience.
"Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples."
Would you like to join thousands of museums worldwide and also arrange an activity with your organisation? The programme and inspirational ideas from other museums are available on the IMD website. You can also download useful toolkits and communication tools to promote your own programme.
Call for Papers
Are you looking for experts for a conference, publication or workshop, or do you want to share knowledge with a worldwide community of museum professionals? ICOM International’s website has an overview of calls for papers.
Would you like to read contributions from colleagues worldwide and keep up to date with current events in the museum field? You can do so via the platform ICOM Voices, which was developed especially for this purpose. You can submit articles (in English, French or Spanish) on one of the following themes: sustainability, heritage protection, intangible heritage, local initiatives and communities, or on the museum profession. These articles could be case studies, field reports, opinion pieces and reviews of exhibitions or conferences.
Professional enrichment with ICOM Learning
The ICOM Learning programme facilitates workshops and trainings to enrich and support the profession. Examples include collection and exhibition management, education, marketing and communication, conservation and restoration, social inclusion and emergency management.
ICOM Learning is designed to address regional challenges and encourage collaboration, with the intention of establishing a programme with multiple national or regional partners. Are you also planning to set up a training programme? First take a look at the methodology, programme overview and calls for applications.