Icom unveils new museum definition

Updated version incorporates references to ‘human dignity and social justice’
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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The International Council of Museums (Icom) has proposed a new museum definition following a worldwide consultation.
The updated definition is intended to recognise how museums have radically transformed in recent years. 
It aims to retain the “unique, defining and essential unity” of museums in terms of caring for cultural heritage, while recognising the need for them to adapt their values to the challenges of the 21st century, incorporate different world views, address deep societal inequalities, and acknowledge the crises in nature. 
The new definition states: “Museums are democratising, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the futures. Acknowledging and addressing the conflicts and challenges of the present, they hold artefacts and specimens in trust for society, safeguard diverse memories for future generations and guarantee equal rights and equal access to heritage for all people. 
“Museums are not for profit. They are participatory and transparent, and work in active partnership with and for diverse communities to collect, preserve, research, interpret, exhibit, and enhance understandings of the world, aiming to contribute to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing.” 
The definition will be voted on at the organisation’s Extraordinary General Assembly in Kyoto on 7 September. 
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