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Activity Report 1998 - 2001
Members and Working Groups of the Executive Council

Chairperson: Jacques Perot (France)
Vice-chairperson: Yani Herreman (Mexico)
Bernice Murphy (Australia)
Members : Lucía Astudillo (Ecuador)
Michel Côté (Canada)
Mónica Garrido (Argentina)
Martin Schärer (Switzerland)
Shaje'a Tshiluila (Dem. Rep. of the Congo)
Treasurer: Piet Pouw (The Netherlands)
Ex Officio : Alissandra Cummins (Barbados)
Chairperson of the Advisory Committee

During the triennial period, the Executive Council held 7 ordinary meetings: from the 91st session in October 1998 in Melbourne (Australia) to the 97th session in Paris (France). The 95th was held in Madrid (Spain) in December 1999 at the invitation of the Spanish National Committee in the framework of the preparation of the ICOM 2001 General Conference.

In compliance with Article 22 of the ICOM Statutes, the Executive Council implemented the programme adopted by the 19th General Assembly and ensured the daily management of the Organisation.

The Executive Council created three special working groups and re-endorsed the Ethics Committee:

Ethics Commitee
President: Geoffrey Lewis (United Kingdom)
Executive Council members: Bernice Murphy (Australia)
Shaje'a Tshiluila (Dem. Rep. of the Congo)
Representative of National Committee: Michel van Praët (France)
Representative of International Committee: Jean-Yves Marin (France/ICMAH)
Other members: Kim Byung-mo (Rep. of Korea)
Gary Edson (USA)
Per Kåks (Sweden)
Tereza Scheiner (Brazil)

The Ethics Committee met five times and also undertook three electronic consultations. Social change and new approaches to the provision of museum services has necessitated a thorough review of the Code of Ethics. The first phase of the revision has been completed: the revised Code, retaining its present format, will be presented to the 2001 General Assembly. During 2001-2004, the Code will be rewritten as a series of statements of principle, supported by guidelines.

The Committee wishes to be more proactive in advising the Executive Council and in encouraging debate generally on ethical matters. The Committee provided advice on certain specific cases. One of these cases has been brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Another led to deep concern that political action was undermining the museum's historic role in protecting cultural property and public confidence in the professionalism of museum staff. The Executive Council has appointed the present Committee for the period 1999-2003.

Working Group No. 1: The future of museums

Members: Michel Côté (Canada)
Martin Schärer (Switzerland)

This working group was created to focus on objectives No. 1, 2 and 3 of the Triennal Programme 1998-2001:

  • Objective No. 1: To identify and respond effectively to likely future changes in order to adapt the museum and the profession to the changing situation of the world
  • Objective No. 2: Identify and propose different models of organisation and financing for museums to ensure they are able to continue to fulfil their mission in contemporary society
  • Objective No. 3: Review professional practices relating to museums

This working group was set up to collect information to produce an issue of the Study Series that would propose practical case studies for museums and document the solutions found to specific problems. However, it received very few responses to its request. The International Committees were asked to involve themselves directly in this matter.

Working Group No. 2: Reform of ICOM

Chairperson: Bernice Murphy (Australia)
Members: Lucía Astudillo (Ecuador)
Alissandra Cummins (Barbados)
Michael Dauskardt (Germany)
Frans Ellenbroek (The Netherlands)
Nancy Hushion (Canada)
Jacques Perot (France)
Marie-Christine van der Sman (The Netherlands)
Aidan Walsh (United Kingdom)
Knut Wik (United Kingdom)
Ex officio: Manus Brinkman (The Netherlands)

Since the Triennial Assembly in Melbourne (October 1998) ICOM has entered a new century. Fifty-five years since its creation (in 1946), and twenty-seven years since the last significant changes in ICOM's structure and organisation (in 1974), ICOM has faced a variety of contemporary challenges and issues concerning its future development.

In Melbourne in October 1998, there was a strong call through many forums of ICOM for review and renovation of the organisation. It was realised in the months following, however, that organisational reform was a substantial challenge that exceeded ICOM's normal momentum and structures to accomplish successfully. It required more than ICOM's usual communication and operations to address the challenges of change. Furthermore, it was evident that any review and recommendations that arose would need to be pursued in a comprehensive, integrated manner.

The Task Force (ICOM-RTF) was constituted in June 1999, following formal sessions of both the Executive and Advisory organs of ICOM in Paris at this time. Composed of nominees from both the Advisory Committee and Executive Council, the Task Force was charged with reviewing ICOM as an organisation and establish priorities for its improved functioning in a rapidly changing world. ICOM-RTF was given a mandate to address the challenges facing ICOM both inclusively and comprehensively.

The Task Force has held six face-to-face meetings since June 1999: in October 1999 in Paris; in December 1999 in Madrid (enabling a joint workshop with the Executive Council at that time); and again in Paris in early April; in June, September, and finally December 2000 (at the time of an Extraordinary Advisory Committee meeting, along with the regular end-of-year convening of the Executive Council).
The Task Force considered it desirable to move affirmatively on whatever changes could be achieved speedily and flexibly, for the earliest possible benefit to ICOM. Meanwhile more time would be required on some issues that required detailed, even technical attention subsequently [for example, a comprehensive revision of the ICOM Statutes].

The Task Force was greatly helped not only by responses received from Chairpersons of Committees (its appeals for feedback through the Advisory structures), but also by all the conversations that occurred on the ICOM-L discussion list (

The results of the Task Force's evolving work and consultations were first set out in full (with background analysis of the organisation's parts) in a comprehensive study: "A Tool Box for Renovating ICOM": Report from Task Force for Review and Reform of ICOM [ICOM-RTF]. This was a 102-page Report, divided into 16 Sections, providing a detailed analysis of ICOM, its historical evolution, parallel parts and current functioning. The Report, advocating change through 56 Recommendations summarised in the early pages for easy reference, was circulated in English, French and Spanish in late May 2000. It was considered by the ICOM Executive Council & ICOM Advisory Committee in their mid-year sessions in Paris in June 2000, and suggestions then made were taken into consideration by the Task Force to be presented to the Extraordinary Meeting of the Advisory Committee in December 2000 in Paris prior to presentation in their final form for Barcelona.

During the Extraordinary meeting of the Advisory Committee the revisions to the ICOM RTF proposals were presented and discussed. Wide-ranging and enthusiastic discussion on it ensued; some recommendations generated vigorous debate before reaching consensus. Notwithstanding this however there was general support for the RTF recommendations and its Strategic Plan.

Working Group No. 3: Defence of endangered heritage

Members: Lucía Astudillo (Ecuador)
Christine Logie (Belgium)
Shaje'a Tshiluila (Dem. Rep. of the Congo)

This working group concentrated on the development of objectives No. 8 and 9 of the triennial programme:

  • Objective No. 8: To defend heritage in danger
  • Objective No. 9: To promote the ICOM Code of Professional Ethics

A three-part questionnaire was sent to the members of the Advisory Committee requesting their input on catastrophes (armed conflict, natural catastrophes, catastrophes caused by human involvement), damaged heritage (destroyed or endangered) and emergency organisations. In addition, each National Committee was further asked to appoint a correspondent in their country who would, notably, be responsible for informing the Secretariat of any conflict or catastrophe and indicate what the consequences had been for the country's cultural heritage. 26 National Committees, 4 International Committees, 2 Affiliated Organisations and 1 Regional Organisation answered this appeal. Given that the number of responses to this questionnaire was inadequate, it was decided to send it again.

Updated: 17 June 2005