The ICOM Definition of a Museum


A museum is an institution dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of primary tangible evidence of human activity. It also serves as a source of knowledge. Museums are located all over the world and have been created for many purposes. Some museums are focused on specific geographic areas, while others provide for diverse audiences. Regardless of their purpose, museums can play an important role in the local community, particularly in developing countries.

While the origins of a museum are varied, the concept of a museum can be traced back to classical times. In the ancient era, a great “Museion” was established in Alexandria. The museum served as a place for study and a college for scholars. At the time, the museum also had a large library. This museum was a prototype university. Today, most modern museums are located in Europe and North America. They are also focused on collecting art.

Modern museums are also closely tied to the Enlightenment and democracy. Their collections are a representation of the worldwide history of art. Moreover, they serve as educational venues, promoting civic pride and nationalistic endeavor. Although museums have been a scholarly venue, some have also actively engaged with social issues.

A number of people have worked to revise the definition of a museum. These individuals include the former director of Kenya’s National Museum, George Abungu. He said in a telephone interview that the proposal had widespread support in Africa.

In the past, the museum model was used to colonize, and it has been a site for self-definition in non-West nations. However, as the museum has expanded, it has become more difficult to organize.

The ICOM Standing Committee for the Museum Definition has formed a new process for defining a museum. This process will last 18 months and will culminate in a vote at the next General Conference of the International Council of Museums (ICOM). Depending on circumstances, the definition may be adjusted.

After the committee formed, the process began with a call for proposals. Six international and 23 national committees submitted their responses. Ultimately, the executive board selected one proposal to discuss with the members. The committee then went on to refine the final two proposals.

The ICOM Define Committee has worked tirelessly to process the results of the definition project. During the past few months, the group has discussed the proposed new definition with over 900 members. The results will help the committee in its future consultations.

The Standing Committee for the Museum Definition plans to take the proposal to the ICOM General Conference in 2022. In the meantime, it is working to ensure a more open and democratic process.

The process will involve four rounds of consultation. During the first round, the committees will have the chance to submit reports on activities. They will also have the chance to comment on the top choice. Once the proposal has been approved, it will move on to the second phase.

The new definition will clarify the social role of the museum. In particular, the proposal aims to clarify that the museum is an institution that preserves and interprets material evidence of human activity. Several countries, including Germany, have expressed objections to the proposal.