Museum Definition

ICOM is currently calling on the knowledge and experience of all members for two important processes: the revision of the Code of Ethics and the drafting of a new Museum Definition.

Towards a new Museum Definition

The existing Museum Definition dates back to 2007 and reads:

'A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.'

This definition is in need of revision. How do we define the museum of the future? No consensus was reached regarding the new museum definition presented at the General Conference in Kyoto in 2019. The decision was therefore postponed in order to switch to a more bottom-up method, with more influence for the National Committees and individual members.

More background information: factsheet museum definition

ICOM Define

Internationally, the Standing Committee ICOM Define leads the discussion. In December 2020, this working group presented a roadmap consisting of eleven steps. This roadmap has a provisional duration of 18 months and should eventually lead to a shortlist of two or three final proposals. These will then be put to the vote during the General Conference in Prague (August 2022).

Methodology

All Committees can make their voices heard in the build-up to Prague 2022. ICOM Netherlands also involves its members by organising various meetings and providing practical advice to ICOM Define.

In the spring of 2021, we asked you to think about which key terms and concepts we would like to see in the new definition. The same happened in other National Committees worldwide. Based on all the submissions, ICOM Define formulated this report: 

ICOM Define report (July 2021)

We are now calling on you again to discuss our response to this list; this is the third consultation round. We have scheduled two online meetings: on 27 and 31 August 2021. For more information and how to register, go to the agenda at the bottom of this page.

What follows hereafter is a new report by ICOM Define, with a shortlist of definitions. In the spring of 2022, all National Committees will again consult their members. This will result in a final shortlist, which will be voted on during the General Conference in Prague in August 2022.

Full roadmap

All information on the museum definition is accessible via ICOM Member Space, under the section ‘Take part in the New Definition of the Museum’. All materials from ICOM Define can be found here, plus those from International and National Committees.

ICOM Member Space

Agenda

Consultation round 3 sessions: 27 and 31 August 2021

Reports

  • In the spring of 2021, we asked you to think about which key terms and concepts we would like to see in the new definition. The same happened in other National Committees worldwide. Based on all the submissions, ICOM Define formulated this report (july 2021). 
  • Read the report and analysis of the working session on 6 Februari 2020.

Contact working group museum definition ICOM Netherlands

Amanda Vollenweider
definitie@icomnederland.nl