A museum is a place where people can view and learn about objects and artifacts of cultural and historical significance. Many public museums make their collection available to the public through exhibitions. Some exhibits are permanent and others are temporary. Some museums are devoted to specific topics. The most popular are art galleries, history museums, and science museums.
The International Council of Museums is a nonprofit organization that creates international standards and recommendations for the field of museums. Its definition of a museum includes various terms, including ethical, diversity, and inclusive. The new ICOM definition includes language that makes it easier for museums to communicate their mission and impact to the public. The proposed process will take 18 months to complete, with four rounds of consultation and 11 steps. The process will begin on December 10, 2020, and end in early May 2022. It will be reviewed and voted on by the Advisory Council and the ICOM General Assembly in 2022.
The concept of a museum is rooted in human nature. The human propensity to collect and inquire has been demonstrated in the ancient world. Evidence of the early concept of a museum can be found in Paleolithic tombs and burials. These monuments were used to house a variety of objects including works of art, natural curiosities, and other treasures from faraway parts of the empire. In later centuries, the concept of a museum has come to be known as a cultural and educational institution.
The International Council of Museums has a definition of a museum that is similar to the Museum Association’s definition. However, the ICOM definition puts emphasis on the work museums do for the wider society. Unlike the Museum Association, the ICOM has a global membership of 40,000 members from 141 countries. The organization issues codes of ethics and publishes research. In addition, ICOM maintains a database called “Red Lists” that flags cultural objects at risk of theft and trafficking.
The main goal of a museum is to educate the public. To accomplish this goal, the museum has a staff of professionals who guide visitors around the museum and answer questions. These employees can also provide information about the exhibits, historical periods, and objects on display. In addition to tour guides, outreach directors work to connect the museum with the public. They can arrange school tours, send representatives to schools, organize fundraising events, and meet potential donors.
The word “museum” originates from Greek and means “seat of the Muses.” The Muses are mythological figures associated with creative inspiration. Museums today are undergoing a cultural reckoning that has touched nearly every aspect of their operations. The new definition of a museum reflects this new reality.
The Icom Define committee has fought hard to come up with a new definition. During its last conference, held in Kyoto, Japan, the committee was unable to reach a consensus on a draft definition. The result was that the old definition of a museum, which was developed in the 1970s, remained firm. In addition to a lack of consensus, some words and phrases were excluded from the new definition.