The International Council of Museums (ICOM) is the only international organisation representing museums and museum professionals.
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February 2015

Cincinnati and Kyoto bid to host ICOM's 25th General Conference in 2019

Both Cincinnati, US and Kyoto, Japan submitted proposals to be the meeting place for ICOM's 25th Triennial Conference

Held every three years, the General Conference brings together the international museum community to discuss a theme chosen by museum professionals. For each edition, some 3,000 museum experts and museum professionals converge for an entire week to discuss and exchange ideas around museum-related issues.

The bid for ICOM's 25th General Conference in 2019 was opened in October 2014. The result will be announced in June 2015.

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50 years later, a new recommendation for museums

ICOM is currently working closely with UNESCO to draft a recommendation to protect and promote museums and to encourage appreciation of their diversity and their vital role in society. This joint commitment to establish standards and principles that will assert the roles and responsibilities of museums and their place in society first saw light in 2012, during an international meeting of experts organised by UNESCO in collaboration with ICOM and IBRAM in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The recommendation takes as its first principle that museums share a number of missions, such as the dissemination of culture and education and working towards justice, freedom and peace. They particularly contribute to establishing a moral and intellectual solidarity among the public, and to ensuring equal access to education for all.

Considering the demographic, technological and environmental changes taking place around the world that affect societies and their relationships with nature, culture and heritage, this recommendation sets the protection and promotion of cultural and natural diversity as a major challenge of the 21st century. Museums, tasked with the role of protecting the tangible and intangible heritage of human cultures, have become increasingly popular institutions around the world, notably in the second half of the 20th century. Given that museums are spaces of cultural transmission, apprenticeship, discussion and training, they play a key role in education, social cohesion and sustainable development. Beyond their role in engaging and being accessible to the entire public, they also contribute to economic development, particularly through tourism and the cultural and creative industries. In line with the professional standards disseminated by ICOM, this recommendation will clarify the role of museums. It will also highlight the importance of their protection and promotion, allowing them to fully contribute to sustainable development and intercultural dialogue, notably by safeguarding and educating the public about cultural diversity and heritage.

An intergovernmental expert meeting devoted to consideration of the draft recommendation will be held in the UNESCO headquarters on 27 and 28 May, 2015. This meeting will conclude the recommendation project and will submit it for discussion and possible adoption at the UNESCO General Conference during its 38th session in september 2015. Since 1960, this is the only international and normative instrument that has been completely devoted to museums. This tool has been long awaited by the international museum community.

More information:

Preparation for a new workshop at the ICOM-ITC Training Centre in Beijing

After the success of the first training workshops held at the Palace Museum in Beijing, China, the ICOM International Training Centre for Museum Studies (ICOM-ITC) has announced that its next workshop will take place from 13 to 21 April, 2015 in Beijing. ICOM-ITC is supported by ICOM’s professional network in providing a high-quality training programme for Chinese and international museum professionals, especially ICOM members from developing countries and the Asia-Pacific region. It officially opened its doors on 1 July, 2013.

This fourth session of training workshops will be devoted to Exhibitions in museums. Many internationally renowned experts will give lectures and discuss exhibition-related issues such as "the process of creation of an exhibition", "understanding the audience needs", "Exhibitions: practice and accessibility", "Evaluating an exhibition", "Specific aspects of the conception of an exhibition". Chinese experts will also exhibit projects created in their museums. A session called "Reading artifacts", developed by the Canada Science and Technology Museum, will offer participants access to objects in the Palace Museum’s collection. Practical sessions will be celebrated in some of the most renowned museums in Beijing and an excursion day will enable participants to visit the most celebrated cultural heritage sites in Beijing and its surrounding area.

More Information

Photo: © Palace Museum

New publications within the ICOM network

ICOM National and International Committees kicked off the New Year by issuing new publications on a variety of topics.

ICME, the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Ethnography, has recently published a new title called Dissolving boundaries: Museological approaches to national, social and cultural issues. The publication, written in English and German, gathers a series of articles presented during the committee's 2011 Annual Conference, held in the Monastery of Banz, Germany. Boundaries represent a challenging topic for museums, whether they be geographical, political, social and cultural. The publication collects insights and experiences from all over the world, raising many questions and addressing recurring topics in museums and ethnography.

More information and access to the publication:

CECA, the International Committee for Education and Cultural Action, has published the conference proceedings of its 2013 Annual Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was held at the time of the 23rd ICOM General Conference, for which the theme was: Museums (memory + creativity) = social change.

The publication can be consulted here:

Finally, two ICOM Committees have issued their first newsletters of 2015. CAMOC, the International Committee for the Collections and Activities of Museums of Cities, notably published a collaborative reflection about the urban network of the city of Trento, Italy, encouraging its readers and members to think about a redefinition of the concept of the 'museum of the city'. Also, ICOM Portugal devoted its latest newsletter to the need for museum professionals and museums themselves to develop their networks and share their resources.

The two newsletters can be read via the following links:

CAMOC/January 2015 (in English):

ICOM Portugal (in Portuguese):

The printed edition of ICOM News is back!

We have heard you: in 2015, ICOM will resume printing and distributing ICOM News to all ICOM members. In order to receive the three issues of 2015 on time, we invite all ICOM members to update their contact details via this online form

The PDF version will continue to be circulated through ICOMMUNITY (access reserved to ICOM members) and a flipbook version will be available on our website:
If you are not an ICOM member, you can subscribe to the paper edition by filling out this order form and sending it to the ICOM Secretariat or

In consideration for the environment, please write to if you do not wish to receive the paper edition.

Interested in advertising in ICOM News? Check out the publication’s media kit for rates and specifications.

Vol. 67 No. 267-268 - Museums, heritage and capacity building

ICOM is preparing a double issue of Museum International on the theme Museums, heritage and capacity building. The issue will be prepared under the direction of the Editorial Board with Prof. Dr Tereza Scheiner as Editor in Chief. All proposals submitted will be assessed for suitability and subsequent articles will go through a peer review process. The issue is expected to be published, in collaboration with Wiley Blackwell, by March 2016.

Professional capacity building has been a fundamental aspect of the reflection undertaken by the museum community since the 1940s. Recent changes in the knowledge environment and the development of museology as a discipline have given rise to a series of discussions on the topic on an international level. The need to specify what exactly transforms a ‘museum worker’ into a 'museum professional' led ICOM to define a wide range of theoretical and practical competencies required, and to outline the general profile that such professionals must have in accordance with the organisation’s high ethical standards.

ICOM’s International Committee for the Training of Personnel (ICTOP), created in 1968, has worked to encourage exchange among professional capacity building programmes. It has also helped ICOM to define specific ethical standards for museum theory and practice, and to develop a proactive approach towards the adoption of such standards. In addition, The Basic Syllabus for the Training of Museum Personnel, formally adopted by ICOM in 1971, influenced the curriculum design of museum studies programmes in many countries.

Museum professionals must have a deep understanding of museum theory and practice and be adequately prepared to work not only in museums, but with museums and heritage, in order to ensure the development of museums and the protection of world heritage at all levels. The transmission of inter-generational knowledge and skills, and learning from peers are vital elements of the learning process. University programmes in museology and heritage in different regions and at different levels embody such processes by providing theoretical and practical capacities in the field.

To adapt to contemporary challenges, museum professionals must simultaneously:
a) recognise the new paradigms of thought that influence museums and the field of museology;
b) increase their ability to act in accordance with such paradigms, developing discourses and practices that represent the values of different groups in today’s society; and
c) develop new forms of connection between museums and society, paving the way for community participation.

These developments require theoretical knowledge of museology and basic museum functions, technical competence in applied museology, and an ethical commitment to society.

To accomplish the above, museum professionals must be prepared to re-evaluate the concepts of Heritage and Museum, and to approach such concepts critically when developing their work.

You are all invited to contribute to this upcoming issue on the theme of museums, heritage and capacity building. We hope you will take the opportunity to offer new perspectives on and approaches to this fundamental topic for the museum community.

Submission process:
Abstracts of between 250 and 300 words, written in English, should be submitted for selection to
Proposals in other languages unfortunately cannot be considered for publication.

Contributions will be on a voluntary basis.

The submission deadline is 30 April, 2015.

The following information should be included with the abstract:

- Title of submitted paper

- Name(s) of author(s)

- Professional background

Further information: For all queries on this Call for Papers, the submission process and guidelines, please contact Aedín Mac Devitt at

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