Museums have no borders,
they have a network

Museum Definition

According to the ICOM Statutes, adopted by the 22nd General Assembly in Vienna, Austria, on 24 August 2007, the current definition is as follows:

“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.

Museum Definition: A way forward

Aiming to respond to the need for a democratic and open process of consultation to the National Committees, International Committees, Regional Alliances and Affiliated Organisations that constitute ICOM, the Standing Committee for the Museum Definition formulated a new methodology going forward. The design of this methodology is based on greater transparency, as well as the careful listening to all proposals. At this point, members of MDPP2 agreed that a change in the name would be advisable and it was requested to the ICOM leadership that the new name be ICOM Define: Standing Committee for the Museum Definition.

Consultation 1

Consultation 1 was the opportunity for committees to submit their reports regarding activities they held in 2019/2020 related to the museum definition. We received richly varied responses from 23 National Committees, 6 International Committees, 1 Affiliated Organisation and 1 Working Group. More than half of the National Committee responses were from Europe, and none were received from countries in Africa, Northern Europe and the Arab region. The responses to this first round of consultation yield important considerations, all of which are very valuable and will help committees going forward as they submit their responses to the forthcoming consultations.

All material is available online for members to see within the Museum Definition section of Members Space. For committees who have not held activities yet, this can be a good place to get ideas on how to consult your members. We very much hope to have increased participation in the next consultations and encourage you to reach out to ICOM Define if you need any support in the process.

Member Space

Reminder: The deadline for Consultation 2 is April 11, 2021. We encourage ICOM members to ask to their respective committees about this consultation, in order to ensure a participatory process.

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The methodology

The approved methodology, greatly based on the expressed need for consultation, moves towards a new phase of this process, aiming to arrive at the next ICOM General Conference in 2022 with a museum definition proposal to be submitted for a vote. The methodology is based on 4 rounds of consultation, divided into 11 steps with a duration of 18 months. The proposed schedule begins on December 10, 2020 and ends in early May 2022, but may be adjusted depending on the circumstances.

Dates are provided in the following methodology so that committees can arrange, well in advance, the activities they must coordinate for consultation of their constituents. Results will be published periodically and made available for the membership in the “Museum Definition” space, where it is possible for members to consult all the documents related to the Museum Definition reformulation project, including all documents produced by the MDPP, as well as the reports of surveys and activities conducted by several committees since Kyoto 2019. ICOM Define encourages members and committees to review all of these documents, as well as the previous museum definition proposals, and the ICOM Code of Ethics and Statutes when considering their responses.

For each step of the consultation committee chairs will be receiving official communication from the Secretariat with instructions and deadlines for submitting their responses. Throughout the entire process, committees have the liberty to create their own procedures of consultation with their membership, to thereby fulfil each step of the methodology.