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January 11, 2021

NetworkConsultations | Museum definition and Code of Ethics

ICOM will be engaging its Members in two different  participatory processes that will shape the museum of the future: the revision of the museum definition and the review of the ICOM Code of Ethics

Step 3: a new milestone in the revision of the museum definition

After the great success of the ICOM Define webinar of the 10th of December 2020, the Standing Committee for the Museum Definition is pleased to announce the beginning of the third step of the Methodology: Consultation 2, a phase which will be conducted between January 11 and April 20 2021.

During this period, all Committees, Regional Alliances and Affiliated Organisations are requested to consult with their membership on what a new museum definition needs to contain. Based on these discussions, each committee will fill an online form (one per NC, IC, RA, AO), submitting up to 20 key words/concepts that are considered essential within a new museum definition.

All Chairs of ICOM’s NC, IC, RA and AO will receive a letter with detailed information about this process, together with the link to the online form. If you are part of the Board of your Committee and your Chair hasn’t received the letter, please write to

We encourage ICOM members to ask to their respective committees about this consultation, in order to ensure a participatory process.

The results will be analysed, published on the member space together with a complete report and will be the base material for the following steps of the Methodology, organized by ICOM Define.


The new methodology was presented by ICOM Define at the webinar “Defining the museum in times of change: a way forward”. If you missed it, please find here the link to the replay.

The 2021 – 2022 review of the Code of Ethics

The ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums is a reference text setting standards for the practice of museum professionals. After being first adopted in 1986 and revised a first time in 2004, a review will take place between 2021 – 2022. This reference tool provides guidance in diverse museum-related topics, and is presented as a series of principles supported by guidelines detailing expected professional practice. It was drafted in a cross-cutting manner and conceived as an instrument of professional self-control.

Following the 25th General Conference of ICOM, held in Kyoto in 2019, ICOM decided that the Code should be reviewed and, if necessary, revised (141 Session of the Executive Board). Should the outcome of the review indicate the need of a revision, a vote on a revised code will be held during the 26th General Conference of ICOM in Prague. The process, which will include consultations with the ICOM Membership, will be coordinated by the ICOM Standing Committee for Ethics (ETHCOM). To ensure an outcome that is coherent with the revision of the museum definition, EHTCOM will work in close collaboration with the Standing Committee for the Museum Definition (ICOM Define).

The first step of the review is a survey addressed to the National and International Committees, Regional Alliances and Affiliated Organisations running from 11 January – 11 May 2021 to identify what is missing from the current Code of Ethics.

Main photo by Jonathan Singer on Unsplash