Horniman Aquarium Girl Looking At Moon Jelly Fish CreditLauraMtungwazi

About Us

What is ICOM ?

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) 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.

ICOM is a membership association and a non-governmental organisation which establishes professional and ethical standards for museum activities. As forum of experts, it makes recommendations on issues related to cultural heritage, promotes capacity building and advances knowledge. ICOM is the voice of museum professionals on international stage and raises public cultural awareness through global networks and co-operation programmes.

  • 45,493 professionals
  • in over 138 countries
  • with 119 national committees
  • and 32 international committees

ICOM is the only global organisation in the museum field.


ICOM UK (International Council of Museums UK) is the national branch (National Committee) of ICOM in the UK.  It is a gateway to the global museum community and the only UK museum association with a dedicated international focus.  As a professional membership organisation, ICOM UK supports best practice standards for the promotion and preservation of intangible and material heritage.  Through its global reach and event programme, ICOM UK contributes to and supports the international agenda of museums in the UK.

British Overseas Territories

ICOM UK also has a relationship with museums in the 14 countries designated as British Overseas Territories. This relationship is a valuable addition to the role of ICOM UK, bringing another important international dimension to our work.

The British Overseas Territories are:

1.     Anguilla

2.    Bermuda

3.    British Antarctic Territory

4.    British Indian Ocean Territory

5.    British Virgin Islands

6.    Cayman Islands

7.    Falkland Islands

8.   Gibraltar

9.   Montserrat

10. Pitcairn Islands

11. Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

12.South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

13. Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia

14.Turks and Caicos Islands

What is ICOM’s definition of a museum?

The definition of a museum has evolved, in line with developments in society. Since its creation in 1946, ICOM has regularly updated this definition in accordance with the realities of the global museum community.

In Prague, on 24 August 2022, the Extraordinary General Assembly of ICOM has approved the proposal for the new museum definition

A museum is a not-for-profit, permanent institution in the service of society that researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage. Open to the public, accessible and inclusive, museums foster diversity and sustainability. They operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities, offering varied experiences for education, enjoyment, reflection and knowledge sharing.