ICOM-US Participation in the new ICOM Define Methodology (2020-2022)

Dear Colleagues,

We are asking for your help once again, as a follow up to our museum definition survey which you may have completed in April 2020. Announced in December 2020, ICOM’s standing committee on the museum definition launched its new methodology for a transparent process moving forward to arrive at the next ICOM General Conference in Prague in August 2022.

Please help us by completing the below survey by 11:59 pm EST Friday, March 12, 2021.

In this survey, we will ask you to dig a little deeper and help by telling us what you think are key words and concepts that should be in a new ICOM definition of museum. We ask you to identify these key words or concepts and provide a brief description of each.

To clarify any doubts on what a key word/concept is, we invite committees and members to look over the prior definitions proposed and adopted by ICOM to guide you through the process of conceiving your own key words/concepts. Here are a few examples randomly chosen within the currently adopted definition (2007):

•"Open to the public" (key word/concept): "Museums are public spaces that should be accessible to different audiences and sectors of society. The word ‘public’ refers to the museum users but also to the whole population addressed by it" (description).

•"Conserves" (key word/concept): "Addresses both the action and the intention to protect cultural property, whether material or immaterial" (description).

•"Tangible and intangible heritage" (key word/concept): "Refers to all natural or man-made goods and values, whether material or immaterial, without restriction of time or space, whether they be simply inherited from the forbears of earlier generations or gathered and preserved to be transmitted to the descendants of future generations." (description).


For your background, the methodology will include 4 rounds of consultation, divided into 11 steps. Your feedback from our April 2020 survey, including examples of key words, helped us to complete the first consultation. For the second consultation, we are asking that you help us use the information from last year to dive deeper into the key words and concepts that are vital in the discussion of an updated museum definition and what it needs to contain.

 ICOM-US will be gathering the feedback received through this consultation to submit to ICOM. Then as part of the next consultation (3rd phase starting July 2021), ICOM-US will share with you the list of keywords and concepts published from this phase by our global ICOM colleagues to submit your feedback once again.

We appreciate your continued participation in this important discussion.

Thank you so much for your help!

ICOM-US Museum Definition Task Force


Find more information about the full methodology and ICOM Define herehttps://icom.museum/en/member/take-part-in-the-new-definition-of-the-museum/


ICOM-US Participation Tracked Below

Click here for the full methodology timeline

Consultation One Submission (due January 10, 2021):


ICOM-US Museum Definition Task Force Members:

  • Kathy Dwyer Southern (task force co-chair), Professor, Museum Studies Program at the George Washington University.
  • Diana Pardue (task force co-chair), Director, Museum Services Division Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. ICOM international committee chair, DRMC and ICOM Define Representative.
  • Eric Dorfman, Director & CEO, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and ICOM Executive Board Representative.
  • Bill Eiland, Director, Georgia Museum of Art
  • Lyndel King, Emeritus Director & Chief Curator, Weisman Art Museum.
  • Alejandra Peña, Executive Director, Museo de Arte de Ponce.
  • Kate Quinn, Executive Director, James A. Michener Art Museum.
  • Elizabeth Varner, Director, National Coast Guard Museum and ICOM Define Representative.
  • Rick West, President and Chief Executive Officer at the Autry Museum of the American West (previous member of MDPP2).

Interested in how else to get more involved with this important discussion? Join us at the next ICOM-US Webinar to participate in our series, What is a Museum? An Exploration in Six Parts.