After a vote at their 26th general conference on August 24th, the International Council of Museums (ICOM) has refined their official definition of the term “museum,” that they previously established nearly half a century ago. The updated definition—which now incorporates the terms diversity, sustainability and accessibility—was finalized after 18 months of commentary and four rounds of consultation. 487 members were in agreement, while 23 voted against it and 17 abstained. ICOM’s president, Alberto Garlandi, notes that it’s a “great step forward,” though recognizes that it’s not perfect. Here’s the new definition:
“A museum is a not-for-profit, permanent institution in the service of society that researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage. Open to the public, accessible and inclusive, museums foster diversity and sustainability. They operate and communicate ethically, professionally and with the participation of communities, offering varied experiences for education, enjoyment, reflection and knowledge sharing.”
It seems to me that many institutions will have to make serious efforts to live up to this definition of what it means to be a museum. These days so many museums have priced their admission fees so that the average visitor can not afford the cost.
I agree, and with the idea that entry should be free, or at least only a modest cost. But here at least, public funding for these institutions is slashed to the bone. So what to do about the ‘researches, collects, conserves, interprets and exhibits tangible and intangible heritage’ bit which tends to be rather costly?