The ICOM Definition of a Museum

A museum is an organization that preserves and displays a collection of artifacts. These artifacts may be of cultural or historical importance. Most public museums make these items available to the public for viewing. The displays in these museums can be permanent or temporary. Many of these institutions also have educational programs for children.

The purpose of a museum is to preserve the history of mankind. The artifacts found in museums represent different cultures and the knowledge and understanding they have attained over time. These artifacts are treasures. Therefore, museums need curators to protect them. Curators also study the objects in museums to share their knowledge with the public.

The ICOM Define committee drafted five definition proposals for the museum, based on data analysis conducted in Consultation 2 and 3. These proposals were then ranked by ICOM committees and public comment was sought on the top two. After all consultations were completed, the ICOM Define team worked intensively to process the results and refine the final two proposals. The ICOM Advisory Council will vote on the proposed definition of a museum at the ICOM General Conference in 2022.

The International Council of Museums is a nonprofit organization that makes recommendations and sets standards for museums around the world. The new definition includes the words “ethical”, “inclusive,” and “sustainable” among others. Despite these changes, some critics have expressed concerns over the proposed changes.

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