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Application for .museum submitted to ICANN for public comment through 27 October 2000

For Immediate Release - October 3, 2000

PARIS - Responding to an open call for proposals, the International Council of Museums (ICOM), as a founder member of the Museum Domain Management Association (MDMA), has submitted an application to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to create .museum, a restricted top-level domain name (TLD) on the Internet. The initiative would benefit the global museum community and its publics by clearly defining a place for nonprofit museums and the resources they offer in cyberspace. This is the first time that the museum community, through its professional organization ICOM, has collectively stepped forward to assert a unique presence and identity on the World Wide Web since the emergence of this important mass medium.

ICANN, the Los Angeles-based non-profit organization that oversees the Internet domain name system, issued its call for proposals with a closing deadline of October 2. During a comprehensive review phase through October 27, ICANN will solicit public comment on the applications it has received. ICANN is expected to announce successful applicants by the end of the year. All applications will be published on ICANN's web site, www.icann.org

This is the first time since the late 1980s that the possibility for new international Internet top-level domain names is being made available. The .museum domain will be restricted, with eligibility limited to museums and their professional organizations based on ICOM's definition of museum, which continues to be discussed and modified as the museum field evolves. ICOM is a non-governmental organization established in 1946 with over 16,000 members. It defines a museum as "a non-profit making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates, and exhibits, for purposes of study, education, and enjoyment, material evidence of people and their environment."

"The museum community shares a common purpose--providing access to the histories of evidence of people and their environments," explains Jacques Perot, President of ICOM. "As we expand our reach into cyberspace, our missions and the reasons people depend upon us do not change. It is perhaps even more important in cyberspace than it is in physical space for museums to have an authentic identity, ensuring that our vast collections and information holdings are accessible and verifiable."

If approved by ICANN, .museum will be administered by a newly formed non-profit trade association, the Museum Domain Management Association (MDMA). MDMA's two founder members are ICOM and the J. Paul Getty Trust, and serving on its board of directors are ICOM President Jacques Perot, ICOM Vice President Bernice Murphy, Getty Museum Director and Trust Vice President Deborah Gribbon, and Getty Museum Assistant Director Kenneth Hamma.

The J. Paul Getty Trust--in addition to operating the Getty Museum, Research Institute, Conservation Institute--plays a philanthropic role for museums around the world and serves the professional field in many ways, including through the Getty Leadership Institute. The Getty Trust worked closely with ICOM to prepare the formal application for .museum and assisted ICOM in the establishment of MDMA.

"As an extension of our mission of service to the museum field, the Getty is proud to be playing a catalytic role in the creation of .museum," says the Getty's Gribbon. "The Internet can be a critical point of access and a valuable tool for the public. But it can also be a place where meaning and authenticity get lost. The creation of .museum will give our public and professional audiences greater confidence in the Internet as a point of access to museum collections and information."

Many museums already have a presence on the Internet, while others, due partly to financial and technical limitations, are moving into cyberspace more slowly. Developing a clear cyberspace identity for the museum community as a whole is expected to help bridge this digital divide. Proponents believe that .museum, along with value-added services that can be provided to its members, will give museums that have not yet participated actively in the development of the Internet the support to do so.

ICOM is an international and non-profit organization dedicated to the development and advancement of museums and the museum profession. Founded in 1946, ICOM counts 16,000 members in 147 countries providing a world-wide communications network for museum professionals of all disciplines and specialities. It is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in formal association with UNESCO, and has been granted advisory status by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Its Paris-based Secretariat and Museum Information Centre ensure the day-to-day running of the organization and the co-ordination of its activities and programmes.

For more information about ICOM, see http://www.icom.org/

The Getty is an international cultural and philanthropic organization serving both general audiences and specialized professionals. The Getty achieves its mission through the innovative and complementary activities of the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Grant Program. A tax-benefited institution, educational in purpose and character, the Getty focuses on the visual arts in all of their dimensions and their capacity to strengthen and to inspire aesthetic and humanistic values. The Getty makes a difference by weaving together the presentation, enjoyment, study, and conservation of the visual arts in order to increase the public's knowledge and sensitivity, expand its awareness and creativity, sharpen its understanding and caring--all with the conviction that cultural enlightenment and community involvement in the arts can help lead to a more civil society.

For more information about the Getty, see http://www.getty.edu

Contacts :

Valérie Jullien
Communications Officer
International Council of Museums (ICOM)
(33) 1.47 34 05 00

Sylvia Sukop
Sr. Communications Specialist
J. Paul Getty Trust
(1) 310. 440.6966





Updated: 11 July 2005