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Frequently Asked Questions

What is ICOM and what are ICOM’s missions?

ICOM stands for International Council of Museums. It is an organisation that was created in 1946 by and for museum professionals. ICOM works for society and its development and is committed to guaranteeing the conservation, continuation and protection of cultural goods.
ICOM has five main missions: to establish standards of excellence, to lead a diplomatic forum, to develop a professional network and to lead a global think tank and carry out international missions.
You will find more details about ICOM and its missions on the following pages:


Who runs ICOM?

Suay Aksoy,  was elected President of ICOM in 2016 in Milano, Italy.
For further information, you may consult the following pages:

What is ICOM’s definition of a museum?

“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.” (ICOM Statutes, 2007)
More information at:

Where can I find museum statistics?

ICOM General Secretariat does not maintain any statistical data and therefore cannot provide figures on museum attendance or on the number of museums in the world or in a specific country.
Please find below some sources of information on museum statistics:
National Central Statistical Offices might be able to help you. Click here to get the link to their websites:
For statistics in Europe, contact the European Group on Museum Statistics (EGMUS):  http://www.egmus.eu/
Some museums publish their attendance statistics in their annual reports.

How many museums are there in the world?

ICOM is not aware of the accurate number of museums in the world. However, in its 21st edition (2014), the most comprehensive directory Museums of the World published by De Gruyter covers more than 55,000 museums in 202 countries.

Where can I get a list of museums around the world or in a specific country?

You may consult international museum directories, such as:
Museums of the World 2014. – 21st ed. – München : De Gruyter, 2014. – xvi, 1553 p., indexes. – ISBN 978-3-11-033794-5.
Also available as an E-Book.
To order: http://www.degruyter.com/view/product/212452?format=G

The international directory of arts, 2015. – 39th ed. – Berlin : De Gruyter, 2014. – xxi, 2959 p. – 24 cm. - ISBN 978-3-11-033796-9.
Also available as an E-Book.
To order:
Tel.: +49 (0)7071 9353–55 – Fax: +49 (0)7071 9353–93.
Email: orders@degruyter.com

Online directories of different types of museums or by country are available on websites of other museum associations. Use a search engine to locate the online directory of your interest.

What is the purpose of the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums?

ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums was adopted in 1986 and revised in 2004. It establishes the values and principles shared by ICOM and the international museum community. It is a reference tool translated into 36 languages, which sets minimum standards of professional practice and performance for museums and their staff. By joining ICOM, each member agrees to respect this Code.
For more information, visit:

How many members does ICOM have and how are they organised?

ICOM counts more than 35,000 members, representing more than 20,000 museums, from 136 countries and territories. ICOM is composed of around 119 National Committees and 30 International Committees that represent museum specialisations. ICOM’s five Regional Alliances provide a forum for exchange of information and co-operation among National Committees, museums and professional museum workers in their respective regions. Finally, 21 Specialised International Organisations are affiliated to ICOM. They assemble a particular type of museum or group of museums and/or museum professionals in a specific region.
For more information on ICOM’s Committees, please visit:

Does ICOM offer scholarships or grants?

ICOM offers to ICOM members fellowships that provide support to attend ICOM triennial general conferences. For more information, contact the ICOM Secretariat. Some international committees of ICOM offer fellowships to attend their annual meeting.  Contact the international committee of which you are a member or is relevant to your interests.

Where can I find information about training and museum studies?

There are lots of training around the world for people who would like to work in a museum. The ICOM International Committee for the Training of Personnel (ICTOP) is the specialised international committee in the field. For more information, visit ICTOP's website:  http://ictop.icom.museum
You can also consult the book: International Directory of Museum Training / Gary Edson. - London, New York: Routledge, 1995. - xiv, 411 p., bibl., index. – (Heritage: Care – Preservation – Management).
To order: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415122573/
Some museum associations offer professional development schemes or specific training. For further information, contact the professional association in your country or in the country where you intend to study.

Where can I find information on ICOM publications?

Our Resources section offers access to information on ICOM’s Publications and Red Lists. You will also find bibliographies on various ICOM themes and access to the UNESCO-ICOM Museum Information Centre.
The following link will take you to the Resources section:
The navigation bar on the upper-right side of the ICOM website also allows you to search for information.

Where can I find museum association directories?

Many museum associations maintain a website.  You can use a search engine to find the website of the association in which you are interested.  If you do not find the information you are looking for, feel free to contact the UNESCO-ICOM Museum Information Centre.

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