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Free and Immediate Entry to Museums by ICOM Card-Holders

The "right" of ICOM members to free or reduced entry to museums world wide has never really been an "open and shut" case. This privilege almost always depended on the good will of the institutions concerned and also upon the National Committees in the countries where the museums are located.

Normally, it is the Chairperson and other Board members of the National Committee who take it upon themselves to request museums in their countries (particularly those that are ICOM members) to honour the ICOM card. Sometimes the requests are made to the appropriate governmental office, i.e. the Ministry of Culture or Education.

To avail of free (or reduced fee entry) to museums and sites, personnel of  ICOM’s institutional members may be requested to show proof of their employment with the institutional member (i.e. badge, official letter etc.).This is the case for the Palaces of Versailles and the Trianon in France.

Individual ICOM members should also have identity cards as supporting documents to enable them to have this benefit.

The National Committees as well as the ICOM Secretariat disseminate ICOM decals (stickers) to the institutions that honour the card. The posting of this decal in the museum's reception area usually signals the benefit of free or reduced entry for ICOM members. This is the case in Belgium, Germany and Spain, for example.

In France, ICOM cards are honoured in the national museums (e.g. Louvre, Musée d'Orsay) and other municipal museums that are ICOM members (e.g. Palais Galliera-Costume Museum). The beauty of this is not having to queue at all! The card is also valid for temporary "blockbuster" exhibitions held in France, e.g. at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Moreover, the ICOM card can be used at French monuments and sites such as Mont St. Michel and the castles of the Loire Valley. This is part of a reciprocity programme with ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments & Sites) whose cards are also accepted in museums.

United States museums are similarly cooperative. The major museums that are ICOM institutional members accept the card, such as New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Frick Collection. In the Washington D.C. area, most museums are national in character and therefore do not charge entry fees.

In Italy, thanks to the efforts of the Italian National Committee, the Ministry of Culture issued a decree in July 1997 allowing ICOM members to enjoy free entry to national museums, archaeological monuments and sites. In 1999, more than 70 museums that are not administered by the state decided to grant free entrance to ICOM members. A list of these italian museums is available in the ICOM Italy web site. Vatican Museums do also honour the ICOM Card.

Updated: 16 July 2007