If the new concept is approved in the ICOM Extraordinary General Assembly to be held in Kyoto (Japan) next September 7, from now on the museums will be “democratizing spaces.

The portal specialized in the world of art and museums Hyperallergic, recently published an article in which it points out that the new definition of “museum” that the International Council of Museums (ICOM) will vote in September, has triggered the international debate. And with just reason.


What is the new definition about?

The proposed change in the ICOM agenda includes, within museums, a language on “social justice, global equality and planetary well-being”. Critics say the text is too political for most of the world's museums, that they are content to display important pieces of civilization and keep a memory of humanity.

hyperallergic comments that for almost 50 years, ICOM has defined the museum as “a non-profit institution” that “acquires, preserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment, for educational purposes, of study and enjoy ”.

But an updated version of the definition would incorporate the mention of “human dignity and social justice,” references that have divided the 40.000 ICOM professionals, which represent 20.000 museums of all ideologies.


The language of the 21st century

A couple of weeks ago, 24 national branches of ICOM, including those of France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Canada and Russia, requested a postponement of the official vote of the review to present a new proposal to the one presented by curator Jette Sandahl, who suggests that the current definition "does not speak the language of the 21st century" by ignoring the demands of "cultural democracy."

If the new concept is approved at the ICOM Extraordinary General Assembly to be held in Kyoto (Japan) next September 7, from now on the museums will be “democratizing, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the past and the future".

In addition, "recognizing and addressing the conflicts and challenges of the present, they keep artifacts and specimens in trust for society, safeguard various memories for future generations and guarantee equal rights and access to heritage for all people."

In summary, Sandahl's proposal is that while museums are not for profit, from now on they must be “participatory and transparent”; work in active partnership with and for various communities to collect, preserve, investigate, interpret, exhibit and improve understanding of the world, with the aim of contributing to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary well-being. ”


Museum ideology

Several ICOM members and international museum authorities have quickly noticed the "ideological" nature of the proposal, while most find it quite confusing, exaggerated and confusing museums with cultural centers, libraries or laboratories.

In other words, critics of the new definition of museums considered that "it is too political and too vague" to define these spaces that, from 1683, when the University of Oxford decided to show the public a private collection of curiosities of history in what It was the Ashmolean Museum, they have enjoyed the interest of people of all ages ... and educated them.

With information from Hyperallergic: https://es.aleteia.org/2019/08/21/volviendo-politicamente-correctos-a-los-museos-del-mundo/https://hyperallergic.com/513858/icom-museum-definition/

With information from Hyperallergic: https://hyperallergic.com/513858/icom-museum-definition/