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

Keep museums open, accessible, and safe!

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) condemns the recent attacks on museums, their staff members, their visitors, and their collections. The members of ICOM offer heartfelt sympathy to the families of the victims and to our colleagues who have endured such a terrible event.

Museums are places of beauty, knowledge, memory, and peaceful encounters. The staff and volunteers are committed to preserving and sharing the knowledge and creative endeavours of humankind for our own benefit and that of future generations. People visit museums to gain an understanding of other cultures, to take joy in beauty, and to be inspired to create. Those who participate in the slaying of innocent victims and who merely seek destruction cannot be allowed to triumph over the joy we gain by preserving and sharing the best of human endeavour. History will remember them only for their lack of empathy and the atrocities they have committed.

The world museum community stands united in the face of terror and determined to keep museums open, accessible, and safe. Join us.

ICOM-ITC special training workshop in Tanzania on the way

A delegation from the ICOM International Training Centre for Museum Studies (ICOM-ITC) recently visited Arusha, Tanzania, to prepare a special training workshop for museum professionals in Tanzania and in Africa.

This special training workshop will be based on the successful training model developed for the ICOM-ITC offered twice a year at the Palace Museum in Beijing. The Natural History Museum in Arusha, in collaboration with the Arusha Declaration Museum and under the auspices of the National Museum of Tanzania, will host the workshop from 1-9 September, 2015. This will be the first time that the ICOM-ITC organises such a workshop outside of its training facilities in the Palace Museum in Beijing, China.

Museum experts from Tanzania and abroad will give lectures at this training workshop. A detailed programme is under preparation. The workshop expects to receive some 30 mid-management museum professionals from Tanzania, other countries in Africa, as well as international participants, including from China. A call for travel grants application will be announced in May 2015.

Endorsed by a decision at ICOM’s 130th Executive Council meeting in December 2014, this ICOM-ITC special training workshop in Tanzania will provide quality museum training in Africa where there has been an impressive increase in ICOM membership and a clear need for capacity building. The nine-day training will also provide opportunities for networking and exchanges between museums from around the world.

Photo: Pr. Audax Mabulla, Director of the National Museums of Tanzania, Felista Mangalu, Director of the Natural History Museum, Arusha, Constantinus Nyamabondo, Director of the Arusha Declaration Museum, Steven Bura, Head of Programs Department, Natural History Museum, Arusha, Grace Ai, Director of General Coordination Department, Chinese Museums Association, Claude Faubert, Coordinator of ICOM-ITC

ICOM brings new projects to life!

In February 2015, ICOM’s Strategic Allocation Review Commission (SAREC) met in Paris and awarded grants to 16 out of 38 applications submitted to ICOM by its committees. The applications for a grant must be submitted within the framework of the Strategic Plan of the organisation. They must cohere with the budget assigned to the network, as voted every year by the ICOM Executive Council.

More Information

March 2015: ICOM's expertise requested for the protection of cultural heritage

In March 2015 ICOM was twice given the opportunity to share its unique expertise at conferences on the protection of cultural heritage in danger and risk management.

ICOM was one of the main participants in the 9th International Symposium on the Theft of and the Illicit Traffic in Works of Art, Cultural Property and Antiques, which was held in Interpol headquarters (Lyon, France) from 11 to 14 March, 2015. The meeting focused on the protection of world cultural heritage against criminal acts and conflict-related dangers, reuniting more than 100 participants from 40 different countries. In times when the traffic and destruction of cultural goods increase continually in some parts of the world, profiting from the instability and terrorism prevailing, the Symposium was able to provide the law enforcement community and international organization agencies with a point of departure for the provision of means to better protect cultural heritage, which can only come from improved collaboration. Represented by the Programs and Partnerships Department, ICOM observed that the conservation of cultural heritage had been one of its priority missions for over forty years. ICOM elicited the missions and means against illicit traffic it implemented such as the International Observatory on the Illegal Traffic of Cultural Goods and the ICOM Red Lists.

At the same time an international expert meeting was held during the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Japan. ICOM was invited to attend the conference entitled “Cultural Heritage and Disaster Resisting Communities”. Referring to the recent terrorists attacks in Mossul and Nimrud, Iraq, the ICOM representative observed: “The result of these deliberate attacks must contrive us to reconsider our methods. From now on, cooperation and coordination must become central”. This UN meeting takes place every ten years. Let us hope that our collaborator’s words of wisdom will find true resonance.

Underneath ICOM offices, a major archaeological find

Life at ICOM General Secretariat goes on, but sometimes it holds huge surprises! In early 2015, a team of archaeologists unearthed 229 skeletons from a building located near the metro station Réaumur-Sébastopol in Paris – the very building where a part of ICOM’s Parisian team is based.

Part of the team quickly got in touch with INRAP (The National Institute on Preventive Archaeological Research) to know more about this mysterious discovery which had shaken the relative calm of the neighbourhood. We met Isabelle Abadie, director of the excavations, who welcomed us into the inner depths of the building, surrounded by the pits that revealed many skeletons in a perfect state of conservation. What was to be a simple precautionary excavation carried out prior to the refurbishment work of the basement of a Monoprix supermarket on the ground floor of the building soon turned into a major archaeological discovery. Isabelle Abadie gave the key explanation for this: the building was built in the 19th century for the department store Félix Potin. The setting once held the hôpital de la Trinité (Trinity Hospital) founded in the 12th century and destroyed by the end of the 18th century. We have set foot on the hospital cemetery grounds – in the middle of what seems to be a common grave filled with men, women and even children. The placement of the bodies, from head to foot, probably wrapped in shrouds which decomposed over time together with the way the bodies are piled up, invokes a mortality crisis. Several hypotheses have been raised, including the Paris plagues of the 13th and 15th century. After field research, an exciting work of analysis awaits scientists. By the end of March, the bodies will be removed from the site and transferred to the archaeological centre of La Courneuve, in order to allow the renovation work for the basement to be carried out. The skeletons are to be subjected to Carbon 14 dating, aiming to know the different periods during which these graves were dug, and DNA analysis will reveal the cause of the deaths. After being cross-checked with the historical archives of Paris, these results will confirm or shed new light upon the medieval history of the capital and the evolution of medicine.

Let’s remember that this discovery will stand out in the world of archaeology since these are the first excavations to be carried out in a former Hôtel-Dieu hospital in Paris.

Photo: © Ninon Sordi

Call for Papers for Museum International

A quick reminder that ICOM is accepting abstracts for Museum International on the theme of Museums, heritage and capacity building until 30 April.

Please send your proposal, or any queries on the submission process, to Aedín Mac Devitt (

All proposals will be examined during the month of May.

The full Call for Papers text is available here:

Don’t forget to update your personal information!

The first 2015 issue of ICOM News will come out in May. To receive the issue on time, all ICOM members are hereby invited to update their personal information by filling in the form provided below:

You will still be able to download the PDF version on ICOMMUNITY (access restricted to ICOM members only) and browse the online version on our website:

If you are not yet a member, you can subscribe to the hardcopy version by filling in the form provided below:

Hits of the month

The last week of March was dedicated to Museum Week on Twitter! Check out our collection of tweets on various themes:

The destruction of Syria's cultural heritage is "the worst we've ever seen," says France Desmarais of the International...

Posted by ICOM - International Council of Museums on lundi 9 mars 2015
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