Revision of membership criteria


ICOM Netherlands is tightening the association’s membership criteria from 1 July 2023. According to its statutes, ICOM is an international organisation of museums and museum professionals and a network for exchanging knowledge and experience internationally. ICOM NL is of course bound by these statutes. In the elaboration and handling of the membership criteria, however, major differences have emerged over time between the various national committees of other countries. Compared to other committees, ICOM NL is an exception because of its high number of student members.

Back to the essence

ICOM NL has long been accommodating as a national committee. Our emphasis was on introducing as many potential future museum colleagues as possible to the museum world. Therefore, membership was open to students from a wide range of studies because museum professionals can, after all, have attended a variety of courses. However, it is time to streamline and reassess in order to return to the essence of ICOM.
We realise that the new changes will be a disappointment to many, but we still think it is important to apply them. The AGM adopted the proposal at its meeting on 22 May this year. This decision will bring more balance to our membership, comply with ICOM’s international guidelines, and promote ICOM’s goal of establishing and maintaining a network of museum professionals. We make every effort to continue connecting members through effective communication and offer a wide range of opportunities to share knowledge and networks.

Individual membership, senior membership, institutional membership

Nothing will change for many individual (prospective) members. Museum professionals will always be very welcome. This also applies to individuals whose main professional activity – freelance or employed – is the provision of services, knowledge and expertise to museums and the museum world. The criteria also remain unchanged for institutional and senior membership.

Student members

For student members, we concur with the advice of the NCWG to admit only master’s students who are almost certainly going to join the museum profession. Students are considered prospective museum professionals if they are in the final phase of their studies and their studies directly lead to a job in a museum. From 1 July 2023, bachelor students will therefore no longer be eligible for membership of ICOM NL, nor will students from art academies. We will continue to welcome master’s students from the following studies: museum studies, heritage studies and conservation and restoration. Master and PhD students from other fields of study conducting research on a demonstrable museum subject are free to submit an application, which will be assessed by the ICOM Netherlands board.
All new student memberships are valid for a maximum of two years. After that, we assume that the master’s study has been completed and an application can be submitted for individual membership. An exception is the Reinwardt Academy: 3rd- and 4th-year students remain welcome as members. These new criteria will apply from 1 July 2023. Anyone who thinks they might still be eligible for membership can always contact us. Every application will be seriously considered.


We request all current student members to reapply for membership for the 2024 membership year. They should do this between 1 October and 30 November 2023. Everyone will also be notified personally about this in mid-June. New applications for membership in 2024 will be assessed against the new membership criteria. ICOM memberships that no longer fulfil the criteria will be automatically revoked on 1 January 2024.

New: supporting (institutional) member

The ‘supporting member’ and the ‘supporting institutional member’ categories are new. These members are entitled to ICOM membership but cannot vote. The rationale behind this category is that these individuals substantially enrich the ICOM network, but are not, strictly speaking, museum professionals themselves and therefore should not have a say in ICOM’s policy. This type of membership is for members of museum supervisory boards and boards of directors, as well as for employees of organisation that support museums in terms of policy or finance, such as policy officials or fund officers.

Personal message

We can imagine you have many questions. Everyone – including members for whom nothing will change – will be personally notified about how these revisions affect their membership. This will happen in mid-June 2023. Many of your queries will hopefully be addressed in the FAQs below, and in the extensive document discussed at the AGM, which you can find here. If your query remains unanswered, kindly wait until you are personally notified about your membership.

Frequently Asked Questions

I now fall outside the new criteria, but I think I should be eligible for ICOM membership because I make a relevant contribution to the network of museum professionals. Can I submit a personal motivation? 

I am a student doing a museum internship lasting more than four months. Am I still eligible for student membership then?

  • Yes, but only if you are in the first six weeks of your internship. We do ask for a substantive motivation and a recommendation from the museum where you are doing your internship. To apply, use the application form on the website.

I am a student and do not qualify for membership now. Next year, I plan to start my master's degree. Should I reapply then?

  • Yes, you can if your master's meets the criteria, please use the application form on the website for your application.

How do I know if I fall under the new 'supporting member' category?

  • Send an e-mail to, explaining your situation. We will then contact you personally. 

Who can I contact if I want to ask about the new membership criteria?