ICOM Defines Museums
The term museum is a modern term, but the word has ancient roots. The Greek word mouseion means “seat of the Muses” and the Latin word museum was used for philosophical discussion during Roman times. The great Museum of Alexandria founded in the 3rd century BCE was more of a prototype university, with a library and college of scholars. The word was revived in the 15th century in Europe as a way to describe Lorenzo de’ Medici’s collection in Florence, where the name meant comprehensiveness.
In 2008, ICOM’s German branch convened a meeting to consider a new definition for a museum. This meeting was the first of its kind, and it drew repeated objections from countries throughout Europe. One member of the committee, Burcak Madran, said the new definition could cause problems in authoritarian countries. As a result, ICOM’s chair, Klaus Staubermann, resigned as chairman of the committee in June.
The ICOM’s French branch agreed to delay a decision on the definition of a museum, but this new committee made little progress. At the meeting, ICOM’s committee chair, Klaus Staubermann, said that this was the first time that Iran and Israel had reached an agreement. In July, the ICOM board and chair voted to delay the definition, but not before hearing objections from a number of countries. The lack of progress on the definition led to a resigning of the ICOM board.
The ICOM’s Standing Committee on Museum Definition met again in February. This time, they sought input from the community and formulated a new methodology that would ensure democratic consultation and transparency. This method is also open to public participation, so that all proposals will be heard equally. The ICOM’s leadership also agreed to change the name of the project to reflect these efforts. The new name, ICOM Define, was adopted. ICOM will continue to work on the new definition until a final definition is reached.
During the first Consultation, ICOM members offered suggestions for how to define the term museum. They suggested a broad definition that encompasses the world’s museums and related cultural institutions. The ICOM also requested input from the ICOM’s membership to determine a universal definition of the term. The Committee’s report will be the basis for the next step of the ICOM’s Methodology. They are now working on an updated version of the definition of the term.
The ICOM’s new definition of a museum has been under discussion for some time. It was not a simple task, and the process was long and difficult. But it was a very important step in creating a standard for the field of museum study. It has helped us to create a more effective and efficient organization. You’ll be able to make the most of your career in a professional environment. There are so many opportunities in a museum, and it’s never been easier to make a difference.