ICOM-US Publication

What is a Museum? Perspectives from National and International Museum Leaders

What is a Museum? Perspectives from National and International Museum Leaders is available for sale with our publisher, Rowman & Littlefield and on Amazon

About the Book
What Is a Museum? Perspectives from National and International Museum Leaders shares perspectives from dedicated professionals investigating how museums can meet their ethical, political, social, cultural, and environmental responsibilities in the years to come. In a series of essays, well-known leaders in the museum sector and related fields contribute to our understanding of the current and future challenges facing museums around the world.

Questions explored include:
• What lessons have we learned from the needs of the communities we claim to serve and how can we better adapt to shift our priorities in a faster and more efficient way?
• How can museums not only chronicle the past, but depict the present and become touchstones for the future of their communities?
• In a world aimed towards political correctness, how do we address collections resulting from power and colonization?

This book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in why museums matter today, what their future holds, and how to change them. 

About the Authors
Kate Quinn has been working and teaching in the museum field for close to two decades. She is a Master Lecturer in the Museum Studies program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and is Co-Chair of the Programming Committee for the United States National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM-US).

Alejandra Peña Gutiérrez has been working for 30 years as a visual
arts and museum professional. In 2021 she was appointed Director of the Weisman Art Museum of the University of Minnesota. Peña Gutiérrez is Co-Chair of the Programming Committee for ICOM-US, she is also a member of the Risk Management Standing Committee of ICOM General.

Created in 1946, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) is a non-governmental organization maintaining formal relations with UNESCO and having a consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. ICOM also partners with entities such as the World Intellectual Property Organization, Interpol, and the World Customs Organization in order to carry out its international public service missions, which include fighting illicit traffic in cultural goods and promoting risk management and emergency preparedness to protect world cultural heritage in the event of natural or man-made disasters.

Praise for the Book
“This volume… will serve as an essential primer to understand museums—and, we may hope, stimulate more enlightened attitudes and behaviors on the part of those in charge.”

— Maxwell L. Anderson, President, Souls Grown Deep Foundation & Community Partnership

“These revealing essays highlight immediate urgencies across the museum field—urgencies that both historically and still continue to unequally burden our colleagues, stakeholders, conventional audiences/communities as well as those who have historically been ignored.”

— Deborah Mack, Ph.D., Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian



ICOM-US members are given free access to the webinar recordings of "What is a Museum? An Exploration in Six Parts" here. For non-members, the recordings are available for purchase here. Thank you to everyone who participated!