The International Council of Museums (ICOM) is the only international organisation representing museums and museum professionals.
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December 2014 - January 2015
© Ninon Sordi

ICOM condemns the intolerable terrorists’ attacks of 7, 8 and 9 January 2015 in France and expresses its solidarity with all the victims and their families in this terrible time. We will never accept these extremely grave acts, and we would like to reiterate our unfailing attachment to freedom of speech and cultural diversity. The ICOM General Secretariat, based in Paris, observed a minute of silence in memory of the victims last week, and many museums and colleagues joined us for this moment of reflection. These recent series of events must lead to a common reaction on museums’ place in society, as part of the educational and cultural network of each citizen. It is our role, as mediators of culture, to create connections and inclusiveness, and to connect our collections and missions to relevant contemporary issues.

The 2015 ICOM calendar of events is out!


SAVE THE DATE for the annual meetings of ICOM's National and International Committees and Affiliated Organisations in 2015. These major events for museums professionals provide a valuable opportunity to discuss trends, challenges and perspectives pertinent to their profession. From Tsukuba, Japan for ICOFOM (International Committee for Museology), to Mexico City, Mexico for DEMHIST (International Committee for Historic House Museums), International Committees will be mobilising around the world. Some committees will meet jointly to discuss issues of common concern, as is the case for ICDAD (International Committee for Museums and Collections of Decorative Arts and Design) and ICOMAM (International Committee for Museums of Arms and Military History), which are organising a joint conference on the theme On the crossroads: the meetings of cultures and crafts from 15 to 19 September in Krakow, Poland.

As for our National Committees, ICOM US will host several sessions during the 2015 AAM Annual Meeting on the theme The Social Value of Museums: Inspiring Change, in Atlanta, US from 26 to 29 April. ICOM France will gather in Marseille on 28 and 29 May to discuss the theme Circulation of collections: taking risks to exist? at MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean civilization), winner of the 2015 Council of Europe Museum Prize. These meetings will be an opportunity for participants to exchange ideas with colleagues from all over the world, examining case studies, attending presentations, discovering local and national museum landscapes and connecting with professionals from conference host countries and the surrounding region.

Finally, International Museum Day, one of the major annual events for the museum community worldwide, will be celebrated on and around 18 May, 2015 in museums around the world. The theme of this year’s edition will be Museums for a sustainable society.

A list of meetings and events taking place in the ICOM network in 2015 is available on the ICOM website at:

Syrian heritage at the heart of ICOM's activities last December

In the last months of 2014, ICOM’s work to fight illicit traffic in cultural goods was defined by commitment and mobilisation.

The fight against the illicit traffic of cultural goods in Syria and Iraq has been at the forefront of ICOM’s actions this December, beginning with ICOM Director General Anne-Catherine Robert-Hauglustaine’s participation in the International High Level Conference on the endangered heritage and cultural diversity of Iraq and Syria, held by UNESCO in Paris, France. During the conference on 3 December, she cited plans to update the Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk and to translate it into German. Published for the first time in 2003, the Iraqi Red List is one of the first of these effective tools used by customs officials, police officers, art dealers and collectors to identify objects that are vulnerable to trafficking. In light of current events, its overhaul is timelier than ever.

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An excellent start for Milan 2016

Milan was chosen to host the ICOM Executive Council last December at the invitation of ICOM Italy and the organising committee for ICOM Milan 2016 General Conference. This setting allowed members of the Executive Council to begin discussing the theme of the 24th General Conference, Museums and Cultural Landscapes, and to tour the Milan Convention Centre that will host the conference and other venues for the numerous meetings that will unfold during this international event for museum professionals.

It was an enriching and stimulating meeting for everyone, starting off with the encouraging news that during their annual budget vote, the Italian Chamber of Deputies had approved ICOM Italy’s request for support in organising ICOM’s 24th General Conference. This represents an important first achievement for the organising committee, and a reward for the team’s effort and investment in the event. Indeed, involving Italian political authorities in the project has been a concern for ICOM, especially in the aftermath of the ICOM international conference held in Siena on 7 July, 2014. The Siena Charter, developed during this conference, highlights the Italian perspective on museum’s responsibilities with regard to the heritage and landscapes that surround them. ICOM hopes that the Declaration of ICOM on Museums and Cultural Landscapes will be approved at the 24th General Conference in Milan, so that new strategic objectives and programmes may be set for contemporary museums.

Shortly before the Executive Council meeting, the ICOM President and Director General were received by local and national authorities, beginning with the Italian Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities in Rome. ICOM’s representatives were encouraged by the Italian government’s support of the General Conference and the upcoming signing of an agreement between Italy and ICOM. They also met with the Milan Municipal Advisor for Culture and the Regional Councilor of Culture of the Lombardy Region, who proposed two emblematic Milanese venues—the Castello Sforzesco and the Palazzo dell’Arte of the Foundation La Triennale di Milano—for the opening and closing ceremonies. Finally, an agreement will be signed with Touring Club, an Italian tourist organisation that will organise tours of the country before and after the conference.

All in all, plans for ICOM Milan 2016 are coming along smoothly, with even more exciting progress on the horizon in 2015! Find more information on the event website:

The ICOM network is ready to launch new projects in 2015

ICOM supports its network through three major programmes: providing annual subsidies to International Committees; supporting National, International Committees and Regional Alliances in their organisation of special projects; and offering grants to cover the cost of attendance for young members participating in ICOM International Committee annual meetings and board members from developing countries attending ICOM’s annual June meetings in Paris.

For its 2015 “support to the network” programme, ICOM has received 38 applications for special project funding, submitted by 36 National Committees, 10 International Committees, 3 Regional Alliances and 3 Affiliated Organisations. The projects range from publications to seminars, with some aiming to promote museum ethics, while others focus on professional training of museum professionals across the region and other topics.

The travel grant programme also attracted applications from 44 young professionals who wish to attend International Committees meetings in 2015. Thanks to the grant scheme, grantees in the past were able to present papers on their museum projects and to bring back home the knowledge gained through their participation. ICOM also awards travel grants to representatives from different committees to attend its June meetings, which will take place from 1st to 3 June, 2015 in Paris, France.

Members and committees who receive funding are selected based on their applications. The applications are subject to a review process by the Strategic Allocation Review Commission (SAREC), whose next meeting will take place in Paris, France from 12 to 13 February, 2015.

A successful training for museums professionals in Addis-Ababa (Ethiopia)

One of ICOM’s international missions is to promote and support good museum practices throughout the world by transmitting to emerging heritage professionals the expertise they need to ensure good governance and strong management in their museum work. From 17 to 22 November, 2014, ICOM’s Senior Programme Officer, Raphaël Roig, led a training for 15 emerging Ethiopian museum and heritage professionals on ‘Enhancement of the Cultural Heritage of the City of Gondar and Other Major Sites of Ethiopia’. This 6-day training was held at the Alliance Française in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia and was co-organised by the City of Gondar and the City of Vincennes, France in the framework of the creation of the Museum of Gondar in Northern Ethiopia. Partners in the training included the French Embassy in Ethiopia, the Alliance Française in Addis-Ababa, the French Centre of Ethiopian Studies and the National School of Administration of France (ENA).

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The December issue of ICOM News magazine is available online!

The latest issue of ICOM News, which provides analytical articles, case studies, interviews with museum experts and more, has been recently published online! Discover our Special Report on The visitor experience, an In Focus section offering an in-depth look at the 2015 International Museum Day theme Museums for a sustainable society and a Best Practices article on ‘Knowing your audience’. An article focusing on heritage in danger in Syria due to archaeological looting, an interview with National Gallery director Frederick Wiseman and a recap of ICOM’s annual meeting season in 2014 are also featured in this issue.

Click the link below to access this brand-new issue presenting up-to-date news from the international museum community:

ICOM members can also download the issue in PDF format on ICOMMUNITY:

Hits of the month

Check out Facebook and Twitter for the most popular posts this month! In December our Facebook and Twitter campaign highlighting ICOM’s International Committees, #OneDayOneCommittee, was very well received!

Find a collection of the tweets here:

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