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ICOM’s new proposed definition of museums – what do you think?

Over recent decades museums have radically transformed, adjusted and re-invented their principles, policies and practices, to the point where the ICOM museum definition no longer seems to reflect the challenges and manifold visions and responsibilities.

ICOM invited members and other interested parties to take part in creating a new, more current definition. New proposals were published here on a continuous basis.  ICOM UK contributed to this work by sharing the outcomes of the roundtable on a new museum definition held before the 2018 Working Internationally Conference at the National Museum of Scotland.

Following the processes of active listening, collecting and collating alternative definitions through its standing committee on Museum Definition, Prospects and Potentials (MDPP), the Executive Board of ICOM, at its 139th session in Paris on 21-22 July 2019 reached the following decision.

The Executive Board selected the below as a new alternative museum definition for a vote to be included in the ICOM Statutes instead of the current museum definition at ICOM’s next Extraordinary General Assembly (EGA), which will take place on 7 September 2019, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Kyoto International Conference Center (ICC Kyoto) in Kyoto, Japan:

Museums are democratising, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the futures. Acknowledging and addressing the conflicts and challenges of the present, they hold artefacts and specimens in trust for society, safeguard diverse memories for future generations and guarantee equal rights and equal access to heritage for all people.

Museums are not for profit. They are participatory and transparent, and work in active partnership with and for diverse communities to collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, and enhance understandings of the world, aiming to contribute to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing.

In advance of the vote in Kyoto, ICOM UK is seeking feedback from ICOM UK members and the wider UK museum community on the new proposed definition.  You can let us know your opinion and give us your feedback and comments via Twitter or this quick poll.

ICOM UK