ICOM announces the alternative museum definition that will be subject to a vote

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After years of  us and our partners lobbying an updated museum definition to better reflect the diversity of institutions of informal cultural learning, there now is a new official proposal for a universal museum definition.

Following an open brainstorming call, through its standing committee on Museum Definition, Prospects and Potentials (MDPP), the Executive Board of ICOM, selected the below as a new alternative museum definition for a vote to be included in the ICOM Statutes instead of the current museum definition at ICOM’s next Extraordinary General Assembly, which will take place on 7 September 2019 in Kyoto, Japan.

Find out more about the process 

New museum definition:

“Museums are democratising, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the futures. Acknowledging and addressing the conflicts and challenges of the present, they hold artefacts and specimens in trust for society, safeguard diverse memories for future generations and guarantee equal rights and equal access to heritage for all people.

Museums are not for profit. They are participatory and transparent, and work in active partnership with and for diverse communities to collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, and enhance understandings of the world, aiming to contribute to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing.”

Current museum definition

“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.”

But is the new proposal really fit to better reflect our sector?

More than half of all national ICOM branches have already  filed a request for a postponement of the vote, in order to deliver a new proposal. The major points of criticism are the vagueness and length, the total absence of the educational dimension, and the lack of differenciation from other cultural institutions. Read more about the official objections here and here.

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