The International Council of Museums (ICOM) is the only international organisation representing museums and museum professionals.
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E-newsletter May 2017


The ICOM annual meetings, held every year in Paris, are a major event for the international museum community. This year, more than 300 experts and distinguished guests from museums around the world will be attending from 7 to 9 June 2017. You can follow the meetings on our social media pages and participate in the discussions using #JuneMeetings!

The annual meetings are above all a unique opportunity for museum professionals and members of ICOM to reflect on the challenges facing museums today. This year, Chris Whitehead, Professor of Museology and head of the Department of Media, Culture and Heritage at the University of Newcastle (UK), and a member of the International Centre for Culture and Heritage Studies in Newcastle, will kick off the meetings with a keynote address on Wednesday 7 June.

Whitehead has trained and worked as an art historian and art curator, but his broad research activities today encompass museums of different types – especially history museums – and heritage, with particular emphases on the cultural politics of memory, display, knowledge construction and interpretation. He is currently working on political uses of the past, time and place and contested histories and heritages where these relate to contemporary social tensions and conflict. In 2017, he served as a member of the scientific committee tasked with tackling the particularly delicate theme of International Museum Day, Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums.

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The community of museums celebrated International Museum Day on 18 May around the theme "Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums". The theme was complex, but this 40th edition drew record-breaking participation, with 157 countries and territories celebrating IMD 2017.

From Greenland to New Zealand, museums all over the world highlighted little-known histories related to their exhibits and those difficult to recount, through different events and activities. The ICOM interactive map registered 1,276 activities focused on this theme.

The Tokyo Women's Active Museum on War and Peace prepared an exhibition on the exploitation of Burmese women during the period of Japanese colonisation, for example; and the Danish Welfare Museum organised a debate on poverty with homeless newspaper vendors.

This year the Beijing Palace Museum (China) invited Peter Keller, Director General of ICOM, to celebrate International Museum Day in the Chinese capital, while the Kyoto National Museum (Japan) received Suay Aksoy, President of ICOM.


Suay Aksoy, Alberto Garlandini and Peter Keller met ICOM Japan, the Japanese Association of Museums and the Organising Committee of ICOM Kyoto 2019 on 19-22 May 2017. They participated in meetings and events dedicated to the organisation of the ICOM General Conference that will take place in Kyoto in September 2019, including the ICOM Kyoto 2019 Steering Committee Workshop. On this occasion, Suay Aksoy stated, “From museum ethics to the social role and responsibility of museums, from capacity building for museum professionals to the protection of cultural heritage in danger, we remain steadfast in our missions, while we must adapt to an ever-shifting landscape. We are deeply looking forward to bringing ICOM to Kyoto, and Kyoto to ICOM, in 2019, providing a striking and singular environment to inspire our activities in the coming years.” The ICOM representatives were also invited to the 2017 International Museum Day Kyoto Symposium, organised by ICOM Japan, the Japanese Association of Museums and the Japanese Ministry of Culture. Two hundred and fifty Japanese museum professionals gathered in the Kyoto National Museum. The conference ended with a panel discussion around the IMD theme: "Contested histories and saying the unspeakable in museums".


The 2017 AAM Annual Meeting & Museum Expo took place from 7 to 10 May 2017, with top museum professionals gathering in Saint Louis to explore the theme, Gateways for Understanding: Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion in Museums. More than 4,200 attendees took part in four days of learning, networking and reflection. Like every year at the AAM Annual Meeting, the ICOM National Committee in the US hosted a luncheon and several ICOM members participated actively in the conference sessions. ICOM hosted a booth at the MuseumExpo, where representatives from its headquarters and ICOM US office provided information on ICOM membership and the organisation’s publications. The latest print edition of the journal Museum International, on The role of museums in a changing society, was launched at the Expo and distributed to visitors.

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The European Museum of the Year Award (EMYA) 2017, organised by the European Museum Forum (EMF) on 6 May 2017, went to MEG – the Museum of Ethnography, Geneva, Switzerland. The cooperation between ICOM and the European Museum Forum is ongoing and Peter Keller, Director General of ICOM, attended the event. The call for EMYA2018 is now open. Applications can be submitted until 12 June 2017. More information:

ICOFOM, the International Committee for Museology, is organising an international symposium from 9 to 11 June 2017 in Paris at the Sorbonne Nouvelle on the theme Defining the 21st Century Museum. The challenge of this symposium, open to ICOM members, is to create a comprehensive discussion on the definition of museum. The main language of the meeting will be French. More information: Programme

2017 F@imp 2.0 edition will arrive earlier this year! From 13 to 15 June at John Amos Comenius Museum, the Museum Audiovision International Festival - MUSAIONfilm 2017 &F@IMP 2.0 will be held. More information and full programme

The 2017 Annual General Meeting of ICOM’s Costume Committee will be held in London, England, from 26 to 29 June 2017 at the London College of Fashion. The theme of the meeting is The Narrative Power of Clothes. Registration for the Annual Meeting of ICOM Costume will end on 1 June 2017. More information:

Photo: Leonardo Salvini


ICOM News is transitioning to a new digital format. In the meantime, we are featuring ICOM News articles on our website, and every month here in the newsletter.

May brings us to the Musées d’art et d’histoire in Geneva for a success story in the fight against illicit traffic.

If you wish to get involved as a contributor now or down the line, please contact Sara Heft:

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