Who We Are


ICOM was the brainchild of American attorney and civic benefactor Chauncey J. Hamlin (1881-1963), who also served as its first president. He and Georges Salles, then director of French museums, invited eminent museologists to an international meeting in Paris in 1946. One year later, Hamlin secured recognition from UNESCO in the form of a cooperation agreement and ICOM was born.

Today, ICOM—based at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris—represents 44,000 museum professionals at 20,000 museums in 138 countries and territories.The General Secretariat's international team implements the decisions taken by the Executive Board, works in accordance with the strategic plan, coordinates the committees’ activities, manages the programs linked to ICOM’s missions, and provides services to the organization's members. 

Members join ICOM through one of 122 National Committees. ICOM-US represents and advocates for U.S. interests within ICOM. A Board of Directors, elected by the committee membership at the annual meeting, governs ICOM-US.

One of the most rewarding ways to become involved in ICOM is through its International Committees.