Since ICOM’s creation in 1946, the ICOM definition of the museum has been evolving to reflect major societal changes and the realities of the international museum community.
According to the ICOM Statutes, adopted by the 22nd General Assembly in Vienna, Austria, on 24 August, 2007: 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 a reference in the international museum community.
In the aftermath of the 2016 ICOM General Conference in Milan, a new Standing Committee has been appointed to study and amend the definition. The Committee on Museum Definition, Prospects and Potentials (MDPP, 2017-2019) aims to provide a critical perspective on the current definition as a shared, international framework.
Combining broad dialogue across the membership with the work of dedicated experts from all around the world, the Committee addresses the ambiguous and often contradictory trends in society, and the subsequent new conditions, obligations and opportunities for museums.
The Committee will propose a revised museum definition to the ICOM governance bodies at the 2019 ICOM General Conference in Kyoto. The proposed amendments will focus on aspects, which – in museological and epistemological terms – are particularly difficult and challenging in the current version.