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A Tool Box for Renovating ICOM :

Report from ICOM-RTF for Review and Reform of ICOM

April 2000


I. INTRODUCTION ("How to make ICOM an optimum tool")

"...our ability [to act pro-actively] is dependent on an optimally functional ICOM. That is what I feel the RTF should be about: making ICOM an optimal tool."

(Per Rekdal, Norway/ ICME Chairperson, in ICOM-L response to Task Force 21/3/2000)

1. The general approach taken by the Task Force (RTF)

It has been widely believed that substantial renovation and change for ICOM could not be undertaken without turning immediately to the Statutes that determine ICOM's constitutional basis and formal organisation. It is true that the Statutes of ICOM (still largely in a 1974 framework) deserve a comprehensive revision. However the Task Force has attempted to take a different course, seeking to avoid being trapped by problems of the Statutes. The Task Force has sought to concentrate first on a strategic overview of ICOM, setting desired directions for change - and then return to the Statutes subsequently.

Summarising our approach: the Task Force began its work by reaching out beyond the details of problems constraining ICOM at present, and shifted its emphasis in the first meeting from the present to the future. The Task Force sought to define the most important features of an improved future for ICOM (which also involved addressing changes in the wider world in which ICOM would be situated), and the increased capacities and skills ICOM would need to be a high-performance organisation in the world of 2004. The Task Force then mapped the picture of ICOM's future performance back onto the present. It took a view of ICOM's current circumstances and operations, and sought to define what steps needed to be taken to accomplish a comprehensive transformation of the whole organisation.

Following development of an ICOM VALUES STATEMENT, and a short, but readily communicable ICOM MISSION STATEMENT (both based on a joint workshop with the Executive Council) the Task Force has evolved THREE PRINCIPAL OBJECTIVES FOR ICOM, presented in this Report.

The Objectives are now supported by a planned series of measurable initiatives (or Success Indicators) for ICOM to pursue; and these are further supported by a detailed ACTION LIST (including bodies/persons responsible & an associated time-frame for accomplishing the steps to be taken).

These tools are now consolidated as recommendations in the present Report. They have been crafted through discussion and feedback in recent months, and provide a proposed guiding structure for organisational change for ICOM through to 2004.

As indicated above, all of this work was achieved without as yet touching the difficult issue of the ICOM Statutes. The Task Force came back to the question of the Statutes towards the end of our period of some months of work, after we had first carried out the important tasks of mapping key values, framing a purposive mission for ICOM, and envisioning desired change. The Task Focus has focused principally upon what ICOM needs to accomplish, and how it needs to function better, in order to achieve a much more productive future for the organisation.

2. A few words on strategic planning

The Task Force used some modelling tools that are often applied in strategic planning (but we were not too doctrinaire about them). Throughout our various processes, we were also looking beyond these tools, seeking not to lose contact with the most important values that inform museums and cultural heritage organisations, and therefore also centrally inform ICOM's work and key purposes.

Why use frameworks of "strategic planning" at all?

We remain aware that ICOM embraces museums people today from many cultures, social settings and backgrounds of professional experience. Some use "strategic planning" tools and terminology often, and find such tools an essential part of their daily work (though also to be applied critically). Others have never applied these tools at all and dislike all the jargon associated with strategic planning itself.

Then human beings remain continuously in small groups and among known communities (village communities, rural communities, or even specialised professional communities) they can accomplish a great deal most effectively through inter-personal contact and discussion. They may well get on better without ever reaching for a strategic planning document. Moreover "strategy" often seems to render people and things as mere aspects of a militaristic grand design.

In the early days of ICOM a half-century ago, its coming together in selected groups, from within a more uniform and intimately known professional community, probably worked well through simpler procedures, common to those times. ICOM was less than one hundred professionals in size in its earliest period. It had increased to only around 800 world-wide by 1974. However it is today a very large and complex membership-based organisation of some 15,000 people, structured through some 110 National Committees, incorporating 26 specialised International Committees, 7 Regional Organizations and many Affiliated Organizations. Its professional networks now spread out truly globally.

As a result of the 1971-74 reforms of ICOM, it was transformed from a representative organisation, with strict limits on its International Committee sizes (once 30 maximum, with no more than two members from any single country), to a membership-based organisation with Committee-sizes opened up to indefinite expansion.

This makes ICOM stand today in strong contrast to peer NGOs such as the international bodies for libraries (IFLA) and archives (ICA). Such bodies have limits on total membership sizes (usually a maximum of some hundreds), are representatively organized, incorporate higher-level leadership of principal institutions in their ranks, and draw government subventions in support of many of their delegates' participation in councils and conferences (and earn much higher subscription-levels, accordingly, for international membership of these federation-style associations). Chief officers of major institutions are heavily represented at these international bodies' professional meetings - ICOM gatherings, by contrast, attract a quite different level of professional involvement on the whole.

In circumstances where ICOM is differently constituted and unusually distributed throughout the world on a largely individual-member basis of subscription (with Institutional Membership relatively small), it is imperative that special tools are applied to defining how to serve and co-ordinate efforts throughout such an enormous community of dispersed professional expertise. ICOM's international museums community also now incorporates professionals of increasingly diverse cultural backgrounds, histories and professional locations.

It is an intellectual challenge to determine how to potentialise such an organisation as effectively as possible, drawing on the huge range of skills, professional knowledge and diverse human energies as ICOM's very existence represents.

In these conditions, multi-faceted analysis and long-term planning tools (as well as short-term flexibility to modify them quickly) become critically useful. Strategic thinking and planning, well applied, become a matter of professional responsibility for such a complex professional organisation to apply to itself. Indeed such tools are crucial to the organisation's adaptability and survival.

The Task Force, ICOM-RTF, has carried out its work to date seeking to apply modern planning tools responsibly while also conserving very durable and still important professional standards and values that brought ICOM into being in its earliest years.


The Statutes of ICOM lay out five objectives for the organisation under Article 3. All of these objectives are usually re-stated at the beginning of each triennial ICOM Programme of activities for the organization.

The objectives are [in summary]: to encourage and support museums; to advance knowledge and understanding of museums in the service of society and its development; to organise co-operation and mutual assistance internationally; to support and advance the interests of professional museum workers; to advance knowledge in museology and other disciplines related to museum management and operations.

These objectives, while they frame up a great deal of what ICOM does, nevertheless do not express ICOM's interconnecting impulses at a deeper layer of its existence. They do not reveal explicitly what values unite the "museum profession" internationally, and should thereby influence and inform ICOM in all its disparate parts, committees, functions and programs.

In order to establish some orientation for its review of ICOM, the Task Force sought to establish, in a joint workshop with the Executive Council, a statement of the values that seemed most important to ICOM in its history and ongoing life. The following Values Statement, arising first through this workshop process, has been refined subsequently through the Task Force's work, and has also absorbed valuable comments through the Responses to the RTF proposals received in March. All have contributed to the final condensation of both a Mission Statement for ICOM (see below) and the directions for organizational change envisaged in this Report as shaping a stronger future for the organisation.

[see next page for Values Statement]

R1: The Task Force RECOMMENDS the adoption of the following Values Statement for ICOM:


  • passionate commitment to cultural understanding and respect for difference as forces for peaceful relations and social stability
  • protection, interpretation and communication of cultural heritage
  • affirmative appreciation of intellectual, cultural and social diversity
  • engagement with the imaginative dimensions of culture and intangible heritage alongside tangible features and material forms
  • expertise and training in museums and heritage care
  • professional conduct and observance of ICOM's Code of Professional Ethics
  • exchange of expertise among networks of museum professionals
  • publication and dissemination of information in support of ICOM's objectives
  • mutual assistance and solidarity among professional museum personnel
  • democratic values and service-oriented organisational character of ICOM
  • participation and communication promoted throughout ICOM
  • support for museum work and heritage initiatives that are:
    - poly-lingual;

    - inter-disciplinary;
    - multi-faceted;
    - cross-cultural
  • sustainable development according to varying socio-cultural needs
  • community education and skills-diffusion on a capacity-building basis
  • multiple dynamics: regions & localities <ŕ core ß > regions & localities
  • engagement in issues and public debates on museums and cultural heritage
  • joint action with partner organisations internationally
  • projection of ICOM's work and values internationally


ICOM has never composed a mission statement. It has instead been guided principally by the five Objectives stated early in the Statutes. A Mission Statement - that is, a statement that links disparate objectives together into a short declaration of purposive intent - is today regarded as a crucial instrument for any substantial body operating in the public sphere. It is important as a means of clarifying an organisation's key purposes (and right to draw public funds). It is also necessary as a public tool to project the organisation to the world, to gain broad understanding and support for what it does.

R2: The Task Force RECOMMENDS the adoption of the following Mission Statement for ICOM:

ICOM is the international organisation of museums and museum professionals, committed to the protection, interpretation and communication of the world's diverse cultural heritage.

As a non-governmental, non-profit body, ICOM establishes professional and ethical standards for museums, promotes training, advances knowledge, addresses issues, and raises public cultural awareness through its specialised global networks and mutual assistance programs.




1. Provision for action within the Statutes (as existing)
The Task Force considers that there is a lack of knowledge about what actions are already provided for under ICOM's Statutes as they now exist.

Many improvements in ICOM's functioning, enabling much greater flexibility and efficiency throughout the organisation, are available under the present organisational rules and Statutes. For example, it is possible under the Statutes:

    • to convene an Extraordinary General Assembly in any year, outside of General Conferences (through provisions under Article 19 [SS 19-5], requiring 2 months' notice);
    • to convene an Advisory Committee Meeting in Extraordinary Session at 2 months' notice [SS 21-11]
    • to convene the Executive Council electronically [SS 22-11];
    • to convene the Executive Council in an Extraordinary Session at 30 days' notice [SS 22-8]

Such contingency provisions should not be taken as a regular option - which could be de-stabilising. However they are included in the Statutes to enable accelerated action by various parts of ICOM in times of increased need.

2. The Model Rules... for Committees (as existing)
There is similarly not a good understanding of what matters are covered under the Model Rules document for ICOM Committees and Regional Organizations (and able to be modified through resolutions of the Executive Council in the ongoing life of ICOM). These Rules are meant to be enabling as well as regulative. They can be altered as appropriate under the powers of the Executive Council in ongoing governance. For example, the aggravating issue of voting rights/non-voting rights in International Committees is able to be remedied quite easily by general agreement - and decision of the EC [see below under INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEES].

3. What are the priority matters needing change in the ICOM Statutes?
Perhaps the most urgent change recommended by the Task Force that requires amendment of the Statutes (hopefully in Barcelona, 2001) is a substantial increase in the size of the Executive Council, as will be seen below [see under EXECUTIVE COUNCIL].

Other requested changes that have arisen through ICOM processes recently are to do with the Definition of museums [Article 2 in the Statutes] - to permit recognition of museum institutions and organisations concerned primarily with intangible heritage, such as cultural and heritage centres in communities (especially indigenous communities). A Recommendation on this matter is already before the Executive Council, framed by Dr Amareswar Galla (Chairperson of ICOM-ASPAC) and supported formally by other colleagues. It is scheduled to go forward for discussion at the June 2000 Advisory Committee (and anticipated to move from there to the July 2001 General Assembly in Barcelona).

4. Task Force's recommended approach to statutory change
A few quite focused statutory changes could be achieved, with good will, at the next General Assembly in Barcelona. However the Task Force has taken the position that organisational change that can proceed without alteration to the Statutes is the highest priority. RTF advises that a successful redrafting of the Statutes can occur only after it is clear what directional changes are required. Organisational change has to be defined, and gain broad agreement, then the Statutes can be re-drafted accordingly.

The Task Force has avoided far-reaching constitutional change in the first instance, in order not to risk confusion, unwieldy discussion in Barcelona of too many issues at one time, or loss of focus on the most crucial instruments necessary for progress and significant change right now.

5. Style and presentation of ICOM's core documents

The present format and intelligibility of (a) the ICOM Statutes, (b) the Code of Professional Ethics, and (c) the ICOM Model Rules for National Committees, International Committees & Regional Organizations - while quite sound in their internal contents - are recognised by the Task Force as inadequate communication tools as the principal organisational documents of ICOM.

They are overwhelmingly legalistic in appearance, and very difficult to grasp or memorise at a casual reading. Important, leading ideas - such as the definition and social objectives of museums, and descriptions of ICOM's key parts and core purposes - are buried in a great mass of technical details. This is especially problematic in the case of the Statutes. [On the Statutes, see also under (A)COMMENTS sections in (IX) NATIONAL COMMITTEES (pp.43-47) and (X) INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEES (pp.48-59).]



R3: That clarification and improved understanding of ICOM's key purposes, values, expertise and operational capacities should be targeted as an organisational objective in the publication, reporting and use of its core documents.

Improved communication internally of the contents of core documents should build on the good work undertaken recently by the Secretariat in producing the "Welcome to ICOM" brochure for new ICOM members and other guiding documents for new members of the Advisory Committee. However improved understanding of ICOM (as expressed in its core documents) has to be a recurrent and encompassing objective, and be diffused throughout the organisation - not simply focused on new members or Committee Chairpersons.

[See further under (VI) COMMUNICATIONS (pp.30-34) as a principal objective recommended for ICOM in this Report.]

R4: That it be recognised that many improvements in ICOM's functioning, enabling much greater flexibility and efficiency throughout the organisation, can be made under the present organisational rules and Statutes, and organisational change can proceed immediately, even with minimal statutory change.

R5: Notwithstanding (R4), that a co-ordinated effort should be undertaken to achieve a review, re-drafting, and substantial condensation of the ICOM Statutes (which needs to be carried through the formal structures of ICOM, requiring final ratification at a General Assembly, and therefore may take a little time). [See also under (XIV) LEGAL & STATUTORY ISSUES (pp.76-86)]

Comment: A differentiation should be made between (a) essential matters of constitutional definition, and (b) by-laws. All principal entities within ICOM should be given clear, proactive definition of their key purposes and role within the organisation. Important issues should be highlighted where possible, and distinguished visually from matters of technical detail. In addition to a Table of Contents (provided for the current Statutes), an Index and guide to key questions could better assist the twin goals of accessibility and communicability (as also for other core documents of ICOM).

R6: That the Model Rule and Code of Professional Ethics documents should similarly be recast, republished and reported on in ICOM News and elsewhere, to provide more accessible information about their contents and recurrent usefulness in the life of ICOM.

Any re-writing of the substantive content of the Code of Professional Ethics document is a matter for the Ethics Committee, and is already being addressed by that standing committee of the Executive Council, under the Chairmanship of Geoffrey Lewis. [See further under (XV) ETHICAL ISSUES (pp.87-88) in this Report]


Members are the life-blood of ICOM, especially since it became a membership-based organisation (rather than a representative one, like the international organisations for libraries [IFLA] and archives [ICA]), through fundamental changes that occurred in ICOM's structure and functioning in the 1970s.


1. Why join ICOM?

It is notable in the current Statutes that there is no statement of advantages in becoming a member of ICOM. The purpose and values of ICOM membership are entirely assumed.

The ICOM Statutes introduce the Membership section by name, then proceed straight to Categories, Application, Honorary Membership and Termination of Membership, without ever addressing key questions: Why should a person or institution be attracted to join ICOM? What does ICOM have to offer a young professional starting out on a life connected with museums and cultural heritage? What does ICOM have to offer a middle- or large-sized museum already employing a staff of professionals in a host of museum fields? What does ICOM have to offer an experienced museum professional, at the peak of a career in museums? ICOM needs to be able to provide answers to such questions, and to make such answers the basis of formulating a Communications Policy as it affects members.

[See further under (VI) COMMUNICATIONS (pp.30-34) in this Report.]

2. Growth issues

ICOM is greatly changed, continues to change, and exists in a rapidly changing world of competing bodies canvassing membership to a variety of professional organisations.

Though ICOM membership has trebled in the past twenty years, several contrary statistics need to be put alongside this: (a) the increase in number and variety of museums world-wide exceeds the rate of ICOM growth; (b) the size of many long-existing, older museums, has greatly expanded in staff size over the same period; (c) a number of national museums associations have immeasurably increased in strength and extent of membership, making some (such as the American Association of Museums) an enormous entity in its own right on behalf of museums in North America.

ICOM can no longer afford to be passive in assuming its own position and attractions for members of the ever-expanding museum profession, in an ever-diversifying and busier world.

ICOM is still a greatly under-resourced organisation for the scope of what it seeks to accomplish internationally. It could both increase its resources centrally on the one hand, and /or devolve them more on the other. Many options for development are possible. However it is imperative that ICOM should take fresh initiatives in analysing and projecting more broadly what is being offered when it seeks to attract or renew members, to improve its services, and to augment its capacities and resources. All these factors interact in organisational self-perception, operations, planning and build-up of performance capacities, vitally affecting the ultimate strength of the whole organisation.

3. Communication with membersMore active and flexible communication with members was affirmed by the Task Force as crucial to the improved confidence and efficiency of all the functional parts of ICOM.

4. Involvement of members in programs and activities

Improved experience of actual involvement offered to members in the activities of ICOM is an important issue. For a stronger sense of connection to be established, members need greater demonstration that they are remembered and informed about activities in which they might be interested.

5. Task Force's review of benefits of ICOM membership

a. ICOM's existence

An overriding benefit to be stressed is ICOM's very existence. ICOM has developed and maintained its identity as a respected and known international body on behalf of museums and the protection of cultural heritage for more than a half-century (1947-2000).

b. Opportunities to be involved with museum professionals in many countries

Important benefit of ICOM's existence is the world-wide networks it provides, to be in touch with colleagues and peers in different contexts and countries, and to be part of a profession that operates internationally on behalf of museums and cultural heritage.

c. History and developed stature of ICOM

ICOM itself has now a considerable history and recognised international stature that takes years to build and consolidate. At a time of great change in the environment for museums, and change initiated from within ICOM itself, such solid foundations should be reappraised wisely and built upon, while the superstructures may be greatly revised.

d. International identity - no rival claims on behalf of museums

Of great value to the cause of museums world-wide is ICOM's considerable identity as an internationally recognised body. It has not had to face any rival body laying claim to a similar role internationally, but it should not be complacent about this status in a rapidly changing world.

e. United voice for museums and cultural heritage

Its recognized international status enables ICOM to speak and act with a single voice, as occasions arise in various international forums: on matters of broad advocacy and principle, on behalf of all museums, and even on behalf of all museums associations located within national borders.

f. Joint ventures and co-operation with peer organisations internationally

ICOM is also able to act at times on behalf of culture and heritage in partnership with relevant peer bodies internationally. It is able to take up trans-national initiatives (through its dispersed museum networks) that directly connect back to national initiatives undertaken in various parts of the world.

g. Continuity and stability in the face of an environment of constant change

These continuing features and enduring ideals of ICOM, first laid down in the late 1940s and consolidated over a half-century, remain important in a time of great change impacting upon museums. ICOM's trans-national identity and functioning has some special advantages in the face of the globalisation of culture and multi-national forces impacting upon museums. ICOM's distinctive characteristics offer resources of professional identification for all continuing and new members of ICOM, who take part in this history, participate in the organisation and expand its co-operative networks world-wide.

h. Co-operation and partnership with national museums organisations

Meanwhile ICOM has great opportunities to work constructively with national museums organisations wherever these exist. It should pursue co-operative activities at all times in consideration of such bodies, avoiding any unnecessary conflict with their interests within a single country.

i. ICOM able to act in support of museums nationally in countries that have no strong national museum associations

In some of the most developed countries, collegial networks, collaboration and publications are felt to be most important features of ICOM; this is similarly true in less developed countries. However ICOM's very existence for developing countries often fills a crucial gap, when no national professional association exists to promote museums or their activities within a particular country. In such circumstances ICOM offers front-line support: in accessing expertise, promoting professional standards and collegiality, providing or assisting the development of training, and advancing the strengthening of local skills and capacity-building.

[See further in this Report under (IX) NATIONAL COMMITTEES (pp.43-47).]

j. The ICOM card for museums entry across the world.

This remains one of the most valued benefits for individual members. (Question: would this be threatened by an eventual EU-museum association and ID card, which would be an alternative card for free museums admission in one of the main catchment zones for ICOM membership?)

6. Members' perceptions of benefits

"To have a membership of 15,000 implies resources that can process that number efficiently and effectively. This requires decisions about how open ICOM intends to be and how active the membership enlistment will be. This then...becomes a principle in what the organization has to offer its members and how high a priority member services assume. Questions of who is being served by ICOM - individual members, museums, the world museum and cultural community, the public - are significant in the resolution of some of these issues."[Submission to ICOM-RTF from Emmanuel Arinze (Nigeria), President, CAM, and Lois Irvine (Canada) Secretary-General, CAM/ Commonwealth Association of Museums - an Affiliated Organization of ICOM]

At a broad level of general member responses about ICOM membership benefits, the Secretariat reported that members were often quite pleased with the benefits that existed, once they clearly understood what these were. The problem was that members often did not know the multiple benefits provided until special explanation pointed these out. In response to identification of this situation by an EC/Advisory/Secretariat working group on membership some years ago, the ICOM members' Welcome... [to ICOM] brochure had been produced by the Secretariat. Its use in recent years for new members had been found to be a very effective tool in raising consciousness of benefits among this group.

7. Servicing costs of membership

It was noted by the working party on membership mentioned above that it cost approx. 250.00 FF to service each member of ICOM annually (in 1993/94 figures) - leaving a much smaller proportion of the

8. Membership subscription still the basis of ICOM's financial resources

Membership subscriptions provide 60% of the funds with which ICOM carries out its work. This form of support is therefore crucial to ICOM's existence and continued functioning. Subscriptions from members directly enable the maintenance of ICOM's international presence, its pursuit of training standards and ethical principles, its work with other world bodies to protect cultural heritage and advocate professional standards for museums across national borders. The subscription base of ICOM directly enables it to maintain its Committees structure and wider networks internationally, and to deliver programs of service to some 15,000 members, representing National Committees in approximately 110 countries at any one time.

[For discussion of options concerning re-allocation of financial resources, see (XIII) FINANCIAL ISSUES (pp.69-75). See also under NATIONAL COMMITTEES, (IX)-3 (c), in this Report: An idea concerning the subscription-based finances of ICOM (pp.44-45).]

9. Membership definitions and categories

a. Terms: definition of "professional" and "museum personnel"
The Museums Association of the Netherlands has recently worked on closer definition of "professional" museum personnel, and its distinctions contributed usefully (through work contributed by ICOM-Netherlands Chairperson Marie Christine van der Sman, as an RTF member) to the Task Force's work on ICOM membership.

Students are specifically excluded in the definition of professional - they are considered, by definition, as "aspirant members" of the profession until they have completed their basic training required to perform professionally in museums. [However see proposed new Student Membership category (R13) in this Report.]

"Professional" participation is considered to involve exchange on an equal professional basis. Such a minimum-level recognition concerning "professional" status is important to protection of an appropriate status/prestige that should attach to ICOM's membership and activities.

b. "Professional museum workers" - proposed alternative: "Professional museum personnel"
Following changes in the nature and professional operations of museums in recent years - with many more specialisations (including newer areas of marketing and business management) contributing to the modernised operations of museums today - changes were required in the conceptualisation of "professional" persons in museums.

There was an additional change placing pressure on terminology. This was the increasing recognition that many types of people working in museums today are trained to render specialised services, to a regularly reviewed skills-level, though they may not be paid employees or in full-time service on the permanent staff. However such people should in every way be included in museum's sense of "professional" behaviour, standards-maintenance, and total performance.

As a result of these developments, a new terminology came into existence in the ICOM Statutes - the expression "professional museum workers" [SS 2 - Definitions]. This tends to give the impression that ICOM is a kind of labour union - which is in fact rather different from an international association of "professional" people, who subscribe to the ideals and internally monitored standards of a "profession", irrespective of actual circumstances of employment. ICOM is not a labour union (it does not deal with pay and conditions of employment). Moreover it undercuts the sense of an "international-standards profession" to use terms like "museum workers" as the inclusive description of highly trained and diversified professional staff.

The problem of adequate inclusiveness would be solved, while the sense of "professionalism" and ICOM's international image would be better served, if ICOM adopted the terminology "professional museum personnel" (instead of "professional museum workers" to describe all the kinds of trained people working in or for museums world-wide.

[This is another issue to be dealt with later when the Statutes are re-drafted, but able to be implemented right away in terms of improved ICOM self-description - and this preferred terminology has already been used in the ICOM Values Statement recommended in this Report, section (II), pp.15-16]

c. Supporting Member category within ICOM membership [Statutes 6-2(c)]

      1. This category is for people who show a great interest in and commitment to museums, while not being actual employees within the profession.
      2. The category already permits ICOM recognition of a person who might belong to a commercial company that provides services to a museum, but nevertheless has become a strong personal or financial supporter of one or more museums' professional operations within a country over time. This is a useful mechanism for recognising outstanding forms of support for museums often rendered by individuals in commercial firms, and should be used actively but wisely.
      3. The Supporting Member category is normally a matter for decision within the arena of each National Committee's operations, and decided by local discussion and knowledge of particular cases of outstanding contribution to museums and professional interests.
      4. "Non-profit" discriminations, or appropriate decisions on a case-by-case basis, are impossible for ICOM to monitor internationally - and ICOM depends on the wise and informed exercise of National Committee judgements in making any recognition of service under this special category of membership.
      5. It is recognised by the Task Force that a matter of increasing concern in recent years to ICOM (and some national museum associations) is NOT the recognition of outstanding help from individuals operating in a for-profit industry outside of museums, BUT RATHER the opportunity for some individuals already located within a "professional" category within ICOM to make an inappropriate use of their ICOM association - sometimes in the form of advertising to gain consultancy work, or directly advertising other services to be rendered on a purely commercial, income-earning basis.


    d. Institutional Membership
    The Task Force considered this category of membership within ICOM and its potential in building stronger institutional relationships for the organisation.

    1. It is recognised that relationships with museums as institutions, not only through their staff as members, need to be actively sought. When such links are created, they need active nurture on a long-term basis.
    2. ICOM Secretariat urged that it would be valuable to understand why some institutions seem to maintain a loyalty to this category of membership over a prolonged period, while others seem unaware or averse to entering this category of relationship with ICOM at all. This was ENDORSED by the Task Force as a topic for active attention, and an affirmative direction for expanding important relationships that both benefit ICOM and strengthen networks through which to pursue beneficial activities for the profession.
    3. The Task Force reviewed the levels of payment currently (operating within a range of $295.00 -$700.00 p.a., according to staffing and size of institution). Greater range within such a spectrum seems a desirable improvement.
    4. In terms of improved institutional benefits that ICOM could offer institutions, it is considered by the Task Force that increase in the number of ICOM cards granted to institutions is NOT such a significant goal to attract Institutional Membership, in comparison with improved professional links and expertise offered through ICOM to institutions for the professional enrichment of their staff and services.


    e. Honorary Membership
    Honorary Membership of ICOM (for life) is granted only by the Executive Council, foroutstanding service internationally, and within a recognition-limit of up to 20 persons maximum at any one time. This is endorsed by the Task Force as a good provision under the Statutes. The Task Force agreed on the need to ensure that such recognition is made according to the international objectives of ICOM rather than on the basis of work within one country alone.

10. Student Membership of ICOM (proposed new category)
The Task Force recognises that there is a need to conserve the basic stability of the professional membership body of ICOM, and of its capacity to keep delivering services to an ever-expanding membership currently at the various professional member levels offered at present.

The issue of admitting students to ICOM membership has been raised at various times in recent years through the Advisory Committee, and each time has failed to achieve a positive resolution of support for its introduction.

The Task Force considers that discussion of this issue previously has not examined the issues with sufficient detail, nor faced the negative image that attaches to ICOM if it is seen to close the door on channels of encouragement to young and future members of the museum profession. A professional organisation that does not care actively about recruiting future members can expect a limited future for itself.

a. Affirmative action on behalf of ICOM's future

The Task Force believes that a more open, flexible approach to membership recruitment early into ICOM is highly desirable. Indeed, it strongly advocates that a shift to encourage students to get to know of ICOM activities (through ensuring that they learn about ICOM in training courses, as well as through selected opportunities to experience and participate in ICOM professional gatherings) would be an important affirmative action strategy:

a. to encourage future recruitment of young graduates to ICOM;
b. to introduce "aspirant members" of the museum profession to a first-hand knowledge of ICOM's programs and activities;
c. to stimulate budding young professionals to enter the international museum community and networks of ICOM early in their professional lives.

b. Regulative controls
The Task Force believes that earlier-stated fears of ICOM becoming flooded by students if it opened its doors to them through membership are unfounded. There are several measures of regulation well able to be applied for stability of the organisation:

a. Admission to a Student Membership category would, by definition, distinguish members from a full "professional" membership status [see the definition of "professional" museum personnel in this Report].
b. This category would consequently not carry any voting rights in ICOM's more formal and legislative affairs, nor entitlement to hold any ICOM office.
Only students at a post-graduate level of training would be eligible - and students involved in some form of training specifically to enter the museum profession.
c. (Although unit-courses in museology exist in some tertiary institutions at an undergraduate level, and broad disciplinary fields were likely sources of future museum professionals - e.g. art history, archaeology, natural sciences - it is considered by the Task Force that a more focused commitment to the museum profession is needed as a source-base for the category of Student Membership within ICOM.)

c. One common card, differently designated
Secretariat advice is that the same general card for all is desirable, to guarantee museum admission world-wide according to a commonly ICOM recognised card. Meanwhile it is a simple matter at a technical level to punch the regular ICOM card with a "STUDENT MEMBER" designation.

d. Scholarships for Student Members?
The possibility of Student Member scholarships to ICOM General Conferences was discussed, and rejected. It is considered by RTF that this category could favour first-world students internationally, at the expense of young professionals within National Committees in economically disadvantaged parts of the world, whose barriers against gaining travel and experience outside their country are formidable, while their claim to opportunities for professional enrichment on the basis of need are in fact higher.


Concerning (V) MEMBERSHIP, the Task Force RECOMMENDS:

R7: [Concerning promotion of ICOM's existence and value] That National Committees be encouraged to increase and disseminate knowledge of enriching benefits available to ICOM members within each country - for the benefit of members at an intra-national level - in partnership with ongoing efforts to enrich the benefits and services accessible internationally through ICOM's existence and operations.

R8: [Concerning membership benefits] That the ICOM Secretariat investigate new types of benefits being offered to professional museum personnel through some museums or national museum associations that have negotiated increased services available as part of appropriately negotiated sponsorship or entrepreneurial arrangements.

Examples of possible increased benefits recommended by the Task Force for further consideration are:
- health insurance

- discount on travel costs
- discount on hotels/accommodation costs

- discount on publications

- possibilities of pursuing cross-institutional or even cross-national benefits (building on the existing free entry to museums) across individual nation-state boundaries.

9: [Concerning Institutional Membership] That expertise networks, knowledge exchange, publications and international enrichment should be more actively projected to institutions as important resources offered - in a variety of ways - by ICOM in exchange for their institutional membership.

10: [Concerning Institutional Membership] That a more graduated series of subscription-levels be implemented to enable institutional membership to be expanded, at a much lower level of financial cost for developing countries than has been the case to date.

Concerning this Recommendation:

(a) Institutional Membership could be assessed at more equitably differentiated levels of "capacity to pay" - along the lines of GDP/World Bank data used in assessing Individual Membership - which would indicate considerably lower levels of subscription than at present in some countries, while perhaps higher than at present in others. (Reasons would need to be communicated carefully.)

(b) The Task Force NOTED that any immediate reduction in the cost of Institutional Membership at the current volume could have a negative impact financially In the total ICOM budget to the degree of around 75,000 French Francs. However this was considered to be a direction worth taking in the short term, to invest better in the development of ICOM's strength and income-earning potential in the longer term.

R11: [Concerning Honorary Membership] That in future any recommendations under this category (giving appropriate details and background on a candidate) should require the endorsement of ICOM members from within at least three National Committees, to ensure that such recognition is geared to outstanding service on an international basis, rather than within one country alone.

R12: [Concerning ethical issues that arise through granting ICOM membership] That more explicit action and statements be implemented to protect ICOM's professional identity and ethical integrity, in view of the increasing potential for mis-use of ICOM association in the design of commercial Web sites, or explicitly commercial promotion of museum-related services and products. (For example, statements that openly welcome certain entrepreneurial partnerships and beneficial collaborations in the cause of museums on the one hand, should also state that "you may not use ICOM's identity (logo) or status for the advertising of commercial services or products outside this relationship" on the other hand.)

[See (XV) ETHICAL ISSUES (pp.87-88) in this Report.]

R13: That a new category of Student Membership of ICOM be introduced.

Comment: RTF is advised that the technicalities of implementing such a card are simple - but recognizes that the real pressure of this new category's impact would be in the area of staff time and resources needed to administer it.

R14: That ICOM encourages implementation, where possible, in the programs and activities of its Committees, of a reduced-price "Student Registration" fee for meetings, workshops and conferences.

Comment: Such a provision could be encouraged on the part of host countries arranging General Conferences, or even National Committee or International Committee meetings in the name of ICOM - while leaving the details of actual implementation at a local decision-making level. For example, it could involve a restricted percentage within registration provisions, to keep a good balance of registration opportunities open for full professional members. The innovation would be important in principle, with discretion applied by organizing bodies in practice.


Communications has emerged as such a crucial issue for ICOM in the Task Force's review, that it has become one of the three overarching PRINCIPAL OBJECTIVES for ICOM as an organisation, as detailed elsewhere in the Task Force's recommended Action Plan for the next triennium (in fact beginning right away).



Communication ínternally

Effective communication begins internally. It should not take years of involvement in an organisation to get to know its workings, structures, professional principles and regulations. On the contrary, it is important to ensure that members can readily get to know ICOM and, if desired, participate more actively within it.

ICOM would benefit greatly by improved and more flexible (two-way) communication to members, Committees, Regional and Affiliated Organizations. In the past, the issue of staff time required, and the rate or cost of communications by mail, phone and fax, greatly restrained ICOM's ability to improve communications. Electronic communications transform ICOM's potential to act more effectively and flexibly through its world-wide membership, professional contacts and networks (though adequate data-bases also vitally depend on appropriate skills-training, staff-time and maintenance, as all museum registrars know).

In the Task Force's judgement, improving ICOM's communications capacities and performance levels is a crucial priority for organisational advancement.

2. External communication

Improved communication internally also enables ICOM to communicate better externally. It is possible to utilise ICOM's expertise and networks to a much greater and faster degree to be visible and proactively communicating in the wider world about museums and cultural heritage issues.

ICOM has the potential, as never before, to raise its public profile through improved communications with partner organisations, with the international press, and with potential stakeholders in support of museums' work on behalf of the world's cultural heritage. This would also have a direct impact on ICOM's ability to increase its sources of financial support in the near future. [See under (XIII) FINANCIAL ISSUES (pp.69-75) in this Report.]

3. Styles, scales and effectiveness of multiple communication options for ICOM

More varied contents and styles of communications are recommended for ICOM to pursue, in accord with the more varied styles of communications operable and effective today.

A more multi-sided approach to communications, drawing on the inter-disciplinary, inter-cultural and multi-media challenges of progressive museum work today, should also help to project ICOM's activities into a wider contemporary framework.

However, with many more options, formats and styles of communication now in use, the Task Force strongly stresses the importance of an ADEQUATELY INFORMED, COMPREHENSIVE and STRATEGIC APPROACH to communications.

a. Electronic communication
While achieving the resources to implement advanced-level, electronic communications is an inescapable priority for ICOM, there are many traps to be aware of. A great deal of financial resources and effort can be wasted on electronic communications today through ill-informed strategies and poor decision-making as to most appropriate hardware, software, human resources and follow-up/maintenance capacities to keep facilities alive and functioning well.

Establishing a Web site is only the first step for an organisation seeking to "project" itself in the fast-moving orbital-attention world of electronic communications. Fancy, expensive Web sites do not guarantee better performance of a whole organisation in the electronic communications field. On the contrary, MAINTENANCE of electronic communications capacities and presence is as important as taking the first step into this speedy universe.

The amount of out-of-date information throughout many pages of ICOM's own principal Web site, or hot-linked Web sites through its Committees' activities, reveals a lack of awareness as to how damaging such an advertisement of inactivity can be for an organisation's image. When experienced Internet users land on a site containing much out-of-date information, this is a strong negative advertisement, and encouragement NOT to visit such a site again. (Busy people value their time, and it is preferable to look for other sites or organisations that care about informing people more efficiently!)

In the Task Force's view, establishing, co-ordinating and maintaining up-to-date electronic communications-capability (including ongoing training and performance delivery) are urgent priorities for ICOM organisationally.

b. The expanded potential for ICOM of inter-disciplinary, multi-faceted, multi-sited information networks and exchange electronically
There is good information on some ICOM Committee Web sites, but it varies greatly in quality, extent and currency.

A comment in response to the Task Force from CIDOC Chairperson, Pat Young, is worth quoting in this Report. It also reveals the newly expanded potential of ICOM to interconnect members across all parts of ICOM's networks in information searches and exchanges - way beyond ICOM's previous restriction of members' communication channels and user-access within formalised disciplinary domains (through the specialist boundaries of the International Committees):

The quality of the ICOM site is in part dependent on the quality of material provided by its committees. Therefore...it is really important that ICOM encourage [and monitor] this at all levels. It would be very effective if the wide range of information could be accessed by topics. The subject heading would lead to the information from each committee related to that subject. The material may be on a National or International Committee's site but would be linked from this subject access. This would be just an extension of the Documentation Centre's reference librarian role on-line.

[Pat Young, Chairperson, CIDOC, in submission to ICOM-RTF]

c. ICOM members data-base on-line
An up-to-date ICOM members data-base on-line, with expandable entry-fields indicating interests and expertise, would be one of the most precious resources for ICOM to have at its fingertips (with appropriate protocols established for integrity of information and regulation of access).

Some countries' national museums associations already maintain databases that cover a much wider network of information of great value to the museums community internationally. For example, the Finnish Museums Association has created and maintained a database on more than 1000 museums in Finland; the Netherlands Museums Association holds important database information on expertise offered by museum professionals for the benefit of other professionals in need, which is the basis for a proposal by the RTF in the suggested actions for ICOM in the next few years. [See ACTION PLAN (PART C of this Report.)]

Data-base profile analysis, on a country-by-country comparative basis for museums and museums associations, could yield a great deal of rich information-layering for ICOM to consider in its own network links.

d. Print communication/publications
Again, it is crucial to be strategic and discriminating in policy and decision-making on print communications and publications. Better appearance and high-design values do not necessarily mean a better result in the area of publications.

Some publications are more effective kept at low costs, with simple-format and low-design levels - especially to the degree that they are primarily needed to circulate short-life information, quickly and efficiently to a maximum number of closely attuned people (such as members of an organisation). Newsletters within professional bodies are a prime example of such a publication. Expending unnecessary time, energy and costs on publications that carry mostly self-outdating information is normally regarded as wasteful of resources - unless newsletters carry articles and comprehensive reports on activities, producing a more durable record of professional actions of an association (as occurs in the now benchmarking quality of publications that appear as the Newsletter of ICOM-UK).

On the other hand, putting more intense effort, increased design-values and greater financial outlay into publications that have a longer shelf-life and value - and can be a vehicle of raising an organisation's image and public impact - is a very different proposition.

The Task Force believes it would be worthwhile for ICOM to re-examine its current publications carefully, and make some new discriminations as to the most appropriate publications-brief (and associated outlay of financial and human resources - for associated returns) on its regular publications.

For example, ICOM News would seem to be falling somewhere between the two ends of the spectrum suggested above. Are its increased costs and high-investment in design features appropriate to its principal purposes: information diffusion to ICOM members? It has been argued that ICOM News in its improved format provides more opportunities for raising ICOM's profile - but is this the best organ with which to do that, when many members report that, from their point of view, ICOM News carries little, and sometimes quite inadequate or untimely information to members who would benefit by knowing more about what ICOM is doing through its various Committees and networks.

Would not a specially-prepared well-designed promotional publication on ICOM - which could be used for several years and carry comprehensive and interesting information on ICOM as an organisation - be a better option for good-quality design and PR purposes? And meanwhile re-conceive ICOM News to be a more efficient and timely organ of information (electronically produced for all who can receive and download it that way?) covering ICOM's programs and forthcoming activities more quickly, with low-volume printed copies used for non-email members and for library purposes.

[W]ith the development of electronic communications - everything has changed. - Information and ideas can be shared rapidly - new networks of people can develop - publication in hard copy is unnecessary. The old way of doing business is history - nothing will ever be the same again. We need to redefine the organization in the light of these changes. ...

One final remark - electronic communications cannot replace human interaction - or to put it another way - we still need to party together once in a while so that we can develop a degree of comfort in sharing ideas and giving of ourselves to our colleagues.

(David Grattan, Canada, ICOM-CC Chairperson, through ICOM-L discussion list, 3/2/2000)

The Task Force makes no prescriptive recommendations here on ICOM's publications, other than advocating that a comprehensive, fresh analysis of publications as a whole, and more discriminating rationale of different options for different purposes, would be beneficial to ICOM..


Concerning (VI) COMMUNICATIONS, the Task Force RECOMMENDS:

R15: That where barriers to good communication exist within ICOM organisationally, they should be overcome by determined effort to achieve simpler explanatory tools, reportage, information exchange and (where possible) increased communication and feedback.

Comment: In pursuing this Recommendation the following could be considered:

  • better understanding of ICOM's principal mission, values and leading ideas (as contained in formal documents) to be promoted through simpler, enabling tools - for example, introductory brochures, stressing key information (like the helpful ICOM Welcome... brochure recently produced for new members - but also for wider use);
  • improved layout, summary, indexes and internal highlighting (break-out quotes as used in the daily press) adopted in publications to communicate ICOM's key formal documents and crucial information more effectively;
  • mentorship, welcome and orientation efforts, person-to-person, group-to-group introductions, especially for and through the Advisory Committee, ICs and NCs, to engage members more readily and effectively in the operations and networks of ICOM;
  • knowledge of developmental and leadership opportunities to be promoted throughout ICOM by livelier communication of such opportunities (more personal stories as well as broadcast of crucial types of information) in ICOM printed and electronic news;

R16: That improved communications (especially taking advantage of electronic communications where possible) should be a priority in raising awareness of ICOM benefits offered to members, as well as helping Membership Services and other staff to deliver benefits and services more perceptibly, broadly and flexibly. An improved ICOM members data-base on-line is envisaged as an important component of this Recommendation, and referred to in the proposed ACTION PLAN for the next triennium.

R17: That improved communication to members of ICOM's programs and events should be pursued to increase members' sense that they have been informed, and where possible invited to participate in planned activities by ICOM committees in areas of professional museum work in which they are interested.

R18: That a comprehensive communications strategy be pursued by ICOM, more fully incorporating the potential (and responsibilities) of electronic communications to advance the following objectives: to co-ordinate and diffuse knowledge OF and ABOUT ICOM, WITHIN and OUTSIDE of ICOM, both FOR ICOM and FOR THE BROADER COMMUNITY.

R19: That, in consequence of (R18), an improved, whole-of-organisation Communications Policy should be developed for ICOM. This policy should take special cognisance of the changed orientation required by a proactive usage of electronic communications. It should also establish protocols for up-dating and currency of information for the organisation, both at Secretariat level and including ICOM Committees', Regional Organizations, or Affiliated Organizations' use of hot-linked, informational sites connected to the main ICOM Web site.

R20: That ICOM produce a comprehensive and strategic overview of its print publications, and desired options for the future, including a differentiated brief (incorporating purpose, target audience and costs-analysis) for each of its main recurrent publications. (Relationship to partner publications (such as those of UNESCO and other bodies) should be analysed, and possibilities of joint-venturing commercially, or co-publication with museums and peer organisations, should be explored in this strategic overview of ICOM's publications.)


The Advisory Committee has a crucial part to play in the structure and functioning of ICOM. How should this be best described? Or changed?


1. Existing definitions of the Advisory Committee (present Statutes)

The Statutes define the Advisory Committee mainly in functional and passive terms:

[a] to advise the Executive Council and the General Assembly on...policy, programmes, procedures and finances of ICOM;

[b] to receive and consider the audited accounts...;

[c] to select the candidates for election to the Executive Council;

[d] to consider and advise on any proposed amendments to the Statutes...; [and]

[e] to do such other things as are required by these Statutes.

[SS Article 21-1]

As one of the most important instruments in ICOM's existence, the Advisory Council deserves an imaginative definition.

2. The Advisory Committee's increasingly ambiguous role in recent years
The Task Force notes that there is a perception that the Advisory Committee's role has shifted over time, becoming more ambiguous and often frustrating, as the nature of ICOM itself has greatly changed. In the Task Force's opinion, the Advisory Committee should be given a stimulating role in ICOM's affairs, and utilised more flexibly, imaginatively, and effectively.

3. The Advisory Committee's connection with governance (present Statutes)
The Advisory Committee's implication in the governance and legislative functions within ICOM comes into play in three crucial ways: (a) through its provision of advice to the Executive Council; (b) through its sourcing of opinion, advice and recommendation through the expert Committees it represents; (c) through its members' participation and voting in the forum of the General Assembly. In the Task Force's opinion, the Advisory Committee needs clearer definition, and a more proactive role should be encouraged for this vital component of ICOM, appropriate to its best capacities, and more directly providing expertise both for ICOM's programs, and to assist the Executive Council in carriage of its key responsibilities. [See further under (VIII) EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (pp.38-42) in this Report.]

4. The Advisory Committee as the key repository of professional expertise
The Advisory Committee should not be misrepresented as a legislative body in its own right, as "the parliament of ICOM" (which, strictly speaking, it is not - and this leads to confusion and some frustration currently when this phrase is loosely used). Rather the Advisory Committee should be capacitated to release much greater energy from within the ranks of expertise it embodies. It should be enabled to access (through the Committees and collegial networks it represents) an expanded catchment of current knowledge, critical thought, ideas, practical suggestions, and evolving debate for the benefit of the whole of ICOM and its members.

5. Provision for Extraordinary Advisory Committee and General Assembly meetings
The Task Force reminds ICOM members that the capacity exists, under the present Statutes, to convene Extraordinary meetings of the Advisory Committee when the need arises - so long as appropriate notice is given (2 months under the Statutes [SS 21-11]). Furthermore, the capacity also exists for a General Assembly to be convened when required (with appropriate notice given) - for example, it could be convened annually, at the time of the present AC and EC meetings held normally in June each year [see SS 19-5].


Concerning (VII) the ADVISORY COMMITTEE, the Task Force RECOMMENDS:

R21: That the Advisory Committee should be repositioned as a principal "brainstorming" and "think-tank" channel in ICOM's formal parts and functioning.

Comment: While the Executive Council is the principal body to oversee governance of ICOM in an ongoing manner, it could be more actively assisted in anticipating issues, targeting professional challenges and charting forward-directions for ICOM, if better means were implemented to draw on the professional expertise accessible through the Advisory Committee. [See elsewhere in the Report under (VI) COMMUNICATIONS (pp.30-34), and (VIII) EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (pp.38-42).]

R22: That a re-focused, more proactive description of the Advisory Committee's role and expertise should be translated throughout the organisation's parts and reflected in ICOM'S Communications Policy and actions [as stated under (VI) COMMUNICATIONS elsewhere in these Recommendations].

R23: That a livelier, reanimated, role for the Advisory Committee (as envisaged in (R21)) should also be better linked to the work of the Executive Council, avoiding uneconomical duplication of efforts, or confusing overlap of their respective principal tasks.

Comment: The subtle interconnections between the Advisory Committee and governance, as exercised by the Executive Council, raise important issues of the Advisory Committee's responsibilities: (a) ensuring, through the AC's own structures and initiatives, that it is functioning well (actively gathering expertise, defining emerging issues, think-tanking on professional problems and new directions, brainstorming proposals and good solutions - AND getting these activities well engaged with the Executive Council's core tasks); (b) ensuring that the Advisory Committee's key constitutional task in the electoral process ("to select the candidates for election to the Executive Council" [SS 21-1(c)], and by vote determining a maximum number of 23 candidates to go forward onto the ballot papers [SS 27-5] ) is vigilantly carried out in order to secure a high-quality, balanced, and appropriately skilled slate of candidates for elections at the General Assembly of ICOM.

[See further on these interconnections under Recommendations concerning the EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (section VIII) - especially comment under (R25) in the main body of this Report.]

R24: That the Advisory Committee be used more actively as a continuous resource of expertise for ICOM's good functioning throughout a whole triennium, not simply when the Advisory Committee is formally convened in its regular annual Sessions. In support of this Recommendation it is suggested that the Advisory Committee should compose, for each triennium, its own Standing Committee on ICOM Programs and Activities, convened by the Chairperson of ICOM's Advisory Committee (or alternative nominee, if preferred, in which case the Advisory Chairperson should at least be a member).

Comment (1): Such a committee should take an interconnecting, cross-functional approach to the Committees, programs and activities of ICOM, and provide a more interdisciplinary, whole-of-organisation view of ICOM's performance in regard to programs and activities throughout a triennial period.

The Advisory Committee already has the crucial function under the Statutes "to advise the Executive Council and the General Assembly on any matter relating to the policy, programme, procedures and finances of ICOM" [SS 21-1(a)], while it is the General Assembly (not the Executive Council alone, but in partnership with the Advisory, in plenary sessions of ICOM) that has the overarching function to "receive and adopt a report on ICOM's activities for the preceding triennium", and "approve the programme of ICOM for the following triennium" (and do similarly in respect of the budgets for each triennium, retrospectively and prospectively at the one time) [SS 19-1(b)-(e)]

Comment (2) : In support of this Recommendation (R24) the following proposed improvements are suggested for the functioning of the Advisory Committee as a whole:pre-meeting issues-setting and opening of topics to preliminary discussion (utilising feedback channels and the wider networks accessible through electronic communication);

      1. utilisation of brainstorming workshops, round-table sessions and other styles of meeting to frame issues when AC meets, and to carry matters forward afterwards;
      2. retention of the more formal style of AC meetings for the most formal functions only - introduction to important business, agenda-setting, key reports, discussion, resolutions and finally wind-up sessions; (wind-up sessions need review, action lists, and further task-setting for subsequent work and meetings);
      3. pre-circulation of formal papers and reports, in full, should prepare the way for shorter, summary reports delivered in-session - and avoidance of repetition of material, where possible;
      4. welcome sessions for new members arranged to assist orientation and effectiveness, and informal gatherings during the Advisory meeting period should be actively encouraged;
      5. a faster momentum of record-diffusion after meetings (Minutes circulation and ICOM Web site posting within three months, and more informal action-notes circulated as soon as possible after meetings), to advance the work of the AC;
      6. establishment of ongoing Working Groups and Task Forces in between formal AC meetings that extend beyond the Advisory, and draw on wider networks of ICOM professional knowledge and expertise in international, co-operative ventures;
      7. utilisation of informal, electronic discussion-groups, as proposed and recently experienced through ICOM-L - perhaps with "rapporteurs" or "moderators" taking charge of particular areas of debate that arise and become important from time to time; some results of these discussion groups to be conveyed back to the Secretariat and Executive Council from time to time, and used to set agendas of AC Working Groups at a future occasion.


Re-examining and capacitating the Executive Council appropriately to take more active charge of its core responsibilities is crucial for the strength of ICOM.


1. Existing definitions of the Executive Council (present Statutes)
The Executive Council, like the Advisory Committee (see under (VII) (pp.35-37) above), is only functionally defined in the existing ICOM Statutes:

[a] take such action as is necessary to give effect to the decisions and resolutions of the General Assembly;

[b] ensure that the approved programme of ICOM is carried out efficiently and effectively...[according to budget];

[c] ensure that all significant matters relating to the policies, programmes and procedures of ICOM are referred to the Advisory Committee for consideration and advice;

[d] consider and take such action as is necessary to give effect to any proposals or recommendations from the Advisory Committee;

[e] maintain general oversight of and, as appropriate, co-ordinate the work of the...Committees and Affiliated Organizations;

[f] specify the number of International Committees which an Individual Member may join;

[g] determine the annual rate of subscriptions...;

[h] make such decisions and take such action...in cases of emergency between sessions of the General Assembly or the Advisory Committee as it deems necessary in the interests of ICOM...;

[SS Article 22-1]

These descriptions cast the Executive Council largely in reactive or passive terms. The most important tasks for the Executive Council are unstated, or are entangled in routine duties and operational details. .

2. How should the Executive Council's principal work be articulated?
The Executive Council's key tasks should be more clearly stated and projected than is the case in any core documents of ICOM at present. The Executive Council is the main body taking responsibility for governance and financial oversight of ICOM in between General Assemblies, as always envisaged in the constitutional arrangements for ICOM evolved over decades. However perceptions of the Executive Council and its main responsibilities are often confused. While it lacks clear definition and a focused job-brief, sometimes even its own actions can seem confusing (for example, when the EC sets up working groups within its own ranks that overlap with tasks better carried out by other parts of ICOM, such as the Advisory).

3. Positioning of the Executive Council.
Clarification of its own core tasks would enable a much-needed repositioning of the Executive Council. The sense of a peak body, focusing on a few central tasks, in pursuit of a mission that interconnects the whole of ICOM, informing and irradiating all parts of its work and programs, needs to be focused in descriptions of the EC's work.

4. Size of the Executive Council

The Executive Council has remained fixed in size for a very long time (still only 10 members in total, established previously for an organisation of some 800 members). ICOM is now enormously expanded at some 15,000 members, and its Executive Council needs to be increased to accommodate the magnitude and complexity of governance today.

5. Representativeness of the Executive Council

It has been argued in recent times (and through discussions arising through the Task Force's work) that the Executive Council is often insufficiently representative of a body that has grown to include many more parts of the world, a number of large Regional Organizations, and many new regional initiatives and programs as part of its evolving character. The Task Force has considered these arguments, together with the question of overall size, in arriving at its Recommendations (below)..


Concerning (VIII) the EXECUTIVE COUNCIL the Task Force RECOMMENDS:

R25: That the Executive Council's role and core tasks be redefined proactively, stressing its overarching responsibilities for central issues of governance, upholding of professional values, ethical standards, organisational leadership and attention to the long-term future of ICOM.

Comment: The principal responsibilities of the Executive Council are to focus on the totality of what ICOM is and does, in terms of good governance of the organisation. The Executive Council is the key body on which ICOM depends to maintain an active, whole-of-organisation vision of its future, and a whole-of-organisation approach to its performance. This gives the Executive Council a few central tasks, as the peak governing body of ICOM, which should always be kept in focus and provide priorities for its own functioning:

Principal tasks of the Executive Council could be summarised as follows:

      1. stewardship of ICOM's history, and leadership in upholding ICOM's core values, mission and ideals as an international professional organisation;
      2. provision of a clear framework of policy definition for ICOM's operations, activities and programs and ensuring that this is well communicated (internally and externally); .
      3. fiscal accountability and legal probity throughout the organisation;
      4. ensuring - through general oversight - that ICOM is well managed, is service-oriented in its administration and programs, and that each part of the organisation has a clear sense of its role, responsibilities and key tasks;
      5. envisioning and forward planning for the organisation's future ("headlights on high-beam...the larger landscape...the longer journey");
      6. resources review and resources development (financial, human, intellectual and technical resources in overview);
      7. safeguarding of ICOM's reputation, international esteem and public regard.
Abilities relevant to these tasks should be carefully considered when nominations are being made for the four EC Officer positions, together with nominees for the Ordinary Member positions, to compose a slate of good EC candidates for elections to occur at a General Assembly..

It is imperative for the quality of ICOM's governance that the Advisory Committee - through its key role in the electoral process ("to select the candidates for election to the Executive Council" [SS 21-1(c)] ) - should look carefully at the slate of candidates it finally proposes to go forward to the General Assembly. (It should be noted that the nomination process currently begins at least three months prior to the Advisory Committee's meeting to review the results, and finally choose a list of (maximum) 23 candidates) [SS 27-2 & 5]. The Advisory Committee should examine thoroughly the range of skills, experiences, and capacities being secured on the slate of candidates for election - for the choices made by the AC will inevitably shape the Executive Council that results. Furthermore it is important to stress such factors again (later) in communication with the National and International Committee executive boards, in advance of the electoral process that finally occurs at the General Assembly of ICOM.

[See [R23] also, under (VII) the ADVISORY COMMITTEE (pp.35-37)]

R26: That a re-focused, more proactive description of the Executive Council's commitment to the comprehensive mission of ICOM should be translated throughout the organisation's parts and reflected in ICOM'S Communications Policy and actions [as stated under (VI: COMMUNICATIONS elsewhere in this Report].

R27: That the Executive Council should be freed from overlapping or crossed-purpose roles and tasks ideally undertaken differently, or even more effectively, within other parts of the organisation.

Comment: As suggested above in section (VII) (pp.35-37), the Advisory Committee could be actively identifying a range of issues, sourcing valuable expertise and ideas (as well as defining and solving practical problems more quickly and flexibly), if it were repositioned more clearly in ICOM, and its principal roles and key tasks better defined and able to be carried out.

R28: That the size of the Executive Council be formally increased from ten (10) to sixteen (16) members, and that the slate of candidates for election of the Executive Council - as determined by vote at an Advisory Committee meeting prior to the General Assembly - be increased from twenty-three (23) candidates to thirty (30) candidates.

Comment (1): Electoral processes are too drawn-out at present.

The time intervals required in the present Statutes stretch the nomination and electoral processes out to an inordinate duration (at present the Statutes require at least five months notice of candidates determined for General Assembly ballot - communicated in writing from the Secretary General to Advisory Chairpersons, in advance of the Assembly [SS 27-7]). However these lengthy processes are determined by an earlier period and state of communications. It would be possible to telescope the processes more tightly in a revision of the Statutes - which is not attempted here. The present Task Force Recommendations aim only at the minimum level of required change to improve ICOM's functioning, leaving the more intricate work of co-ordination of all the electoral provisions through the Statutes to be accomplished in a comprehensive re-drafting.

Comment (2): Costs of service on the Executive Council are not borne by ICOM.

Service on the Executive Council (airfares and accommodation to attend meetings) is not able to be supported by ICOM funds. Executive Council members normally are supported by other means, from within their own institutions, national funding sources, or in many cases by contributing their own resources (wholly or partially), in order to carry out service on ICOM's behalf. This situation is not likely to change unless ICOM is substantially reorganised, or gains greatly increased funding - which is not foreseeable at present. Therefore increased size of the Executive Council does not - at present - have any implications of increased costs (beyond administration) on the part of ICOM to support convening of the Council itself twice per year (usually in Paris).

Comment (3): General Conferences (could involve higher costs to bring the Council members to host countries).

The one instance in which it has become traditional to support international airfares, hotel expenses (and registration costs) of Executive Council members is when a General Conference is held. It has become usual for the host country to meet EC members' costs at this time, together with considerable costs of bringing part of the Secretariat operations to the host city where the General Conference is held. A larger Council in size would create heavier costs, according to this tradition. However this matter should be reviewed separately, rather than having it become a key factor in decisions as to proposed size of the Council for good governance of ICOM.

R29: That the quorum for an Executive Council meeting be increased proportionally from seven (7) to ten (10) members.

R30: That a broadly representative and able slate of Executive Council candidates for election at the General Assembly should encompass a good balance of experience and cultural viewpoints, and that the slate of candidates determined by the Advisory Committee should be arrived at with an active concern to secure appropriate skills and backgrounds for effective governance of ICOM. (It is important to connect this Recommendation to (R23) (p.35) above, in section (VII) concerning the ADVISORY COMMITTEE (pp.35-37), and especially to note the Comments that follow (R25) in the full Report (p.39-40), concerning Executive Council core tasks and appropriate skills.)

Comment: The Task Force studied carefully recommendations that specifically designated regional places to be introduced on the Executive Council, to ensure most effective balance of skills, together with appropriate regional representativeness. The Task Force was sympathetic to the desire for good balance of experience and cultural viewpoints underlying the arguments for wider regional representation, but considered this issue's solution is to be found in a different approach. Rather, active efforts should be pursued through the Advisory networks to raise consciousness of the challenges of ICOM governance, of the importance of social and cultural diversity, and of the need to compose a broadly representative and able slate of EC candidates for election at the General Assembly. (In fact the existing Statutes already instruct the Advisory to "endeavour...to ensure that candidates are representative of the geographical and professional interests of ICOM" [SS-27(4)]. The responsibilities of governance today, however, require a more vigorous attention to this issue.)

The Task Force considers that any specially designated places within a governing body, apart from those of Office Bearers, often creates internal differentiation and undermines other aspects of mutual responsibility and shared governance. Moreover regional groupings, regional needs and regional initiatives - while undeniably important new forces within ICOM - are in fact dynamic and changing. They should never be construed as a stable status quo.

R31: That the Executive Council should be understood (depending upon enabling Statutory changes, and notwithstanding a co-option provision recommended below) as an expanded body of sixteen (16) members in total, including four Officers of the Council as specified by the Statutes.

Comment (1): This would mean that 15 members of the EC (including Officers) would be elected by the designated voting representatives of National and International Committees, and the Chairperson of the Advisory Committee would join as the sixteenth member of Council ex officio.

Comment (2): This Recommendation does not here deal with the proposal (in a paper to the Task Force by Patrick Boylan) of returning to the former system of a "Bureau" of officers within the Executive Council of ICOM (President, 2 Vice-Presidents, Treasurer, and Secretary-General [elected], constituting the Bureau of the EC).

A corollary to this proposition would be changing the title of the Secretary-General to Director-General. Such issues are discussed in this Report in the section on Legal Issues, and should be considered separately. The decisions about them would need to be retro-referenced to the issue of Executive Council size and definition, as covered in this section of the Report. [See (XIV) LEGAL & STATUTORY ISSUES (pp.76-86).]

The Task Force RECOMMENDS a co-option provision for Council size:

R32: That the Executive Council should have the right to co-opt up to a maximum of two (2) further members within its term of office, to assist the work of Council in areas where the Executive Council may recognise that it is insufficiently skilled or insufficiently representative at a particular time.

It is further RECOMMENDED:

R33: That the decision as to whether any additional expertise should be sourced by the Executive Council from within regions, OR in terms of other, more varied expertise desirable for effective governance, should be left to the discretion of each Council during its elected term.

Comment: It is desirable that the Executive Council should take heed (regularly) of Advisory Committee advice about appropriate expertise for its central tasks, and for the Council to exercise its power of co-option cautiously - rather than proceed straight after an Executive Council election to co-opt two further members immediately, as a matter of course.

It is therefore RECOMMENDED:

R34: That the provision for co-option to Executive Council should be exercised specifically to supplement the Council's expertise, rather than automatically to increase its size.

Note: As mentioned in the INTRODUCTION to this Report, statutory change is crucial here: to achieve an important revision in the size of ICOM's governing body, commensurate with its now greatly expanded membership.

[See ICOM Statutes, Art.22-2 (on size of EC), and Art.22-10 (on quorum for EC meetings)]

R35: That the Executive Council, in tandem with the processes recommended for the Advisory Committee's improved functioning (in (R24) and attached Comments), should review its own operations and styles of meeting, reporting and communicating to other parts of ICOM: to achieve rationalisation of roles and procedures, avoidance of duplication, and greater effectiveness in accomplishing the Council's key tasks on behalf of ICOM.



1. What is the role and potential of the National Committees in a reorganised ICOM?

The National Committees (in contrast to the Advisory Committee and Executive Council) are introduced in the Statutes through some definition of their role:

[1] The National Committees are the fundamental units of ICOM, and the principal instruments of communication between ICOM and its members...;
[2] A National Committee shall be the channel of communication between the members and ICOM headquarters...
[SS 14-(1), (2);]

Six "responsibilities" of the National Committees are laid down in the Statutes [SS 14-(2)]. Five of these responsibilities are largely administrative, connected to the technicalities of screening and recruiting members within countries, collecting subscriptions, designating voting members for elections at the General Assembly, and submitting an Annual Report to the EC and AC on the previous year's activities. (How many NC's actually do so in practice?) The sixth responsibility is more connected to an organic "role" within the functioning of the organisation:

"...the provision of advice to the Advisory Committee, the Executive Council and the Secretary-General on any matter relevant to ICOM and its programmes."
[SS 14-1(b)]

Summarising the references in the Statutes, there are really only three expressions that close in on the question of role and key purposes of the National Committees: they are regarded as "the principal instruments of communication between ICOM and its members..." and "the channel of communication between the members and ICOM headquarters" (but in fact these two are really aspects of the one function - two-way communication); the third, "the provision of advice [to AC, EC, & S-G]...on any matter relevant to ICOM and its programmes", is role-oriented, but still largely passive in its conception. The National Committees provide advice, one-way.

The real potential of a signed-up list of committed museum professionals working all over the globe on behalf of museums and cultural heritage values internationally is scarcely tapped into in this framing of the National Committees' role.

It is not the job of the Statutes to perform all definitional tasks for ICOM. Nevertheless the active purposes and role-potential of each crucial part of ICOM do need to be articulated somewhere. They need to be simply stated, easily highlighted, and used to condition and evaluate adequate resourcing and performance of each component part of the organisation. Historically, it has been left to the Statutes to do this work - whereas it would be better lifted into a consolidated, performative and action-oriented publication of ICOM's, Mission, Values, and current Objectives, to be used within ICOM and for projecting it more effectively to outside bodies (especially key partners and funding agencies).

In terms of today's environment of global communications, the role of National Committee members needs to be radically updated to bring the organisation forward to the greatly expanded communication capacities within the present world for professional exchange, consultation, feedback, knowledge-diffusion, issues-testing, and debate.

3. Fees/ subscriptions gathered by the National Committees

a. Ceiling on subscription levels (surcharges)
It has long been a position of ICOM that National Committees should not impose extensive surcharges on top of the ICOM subscription rate, established by the Executive Council annually. The limit to possible surcharges was set at 10% of the ICOM subscription rate. A recent decision of the Executive Council (95th Session, Madrid, Dec.1999) removed this limit and left matters in the hands of the National Committees themselves to decide, based on their knowledge of local conditions. This provides more flexibility for National Committees to charge for administrative or local program service as they believe is feasible, reasonable and tolerable in their own countries. It is a RECOMMENDATION in this Report that the Executive Council decision on this matter should be widely publicised.

b. Subscription return to centralized services at ICOM headquarters in Paris
Member subscriptions remain the backbone of ICOM finances (60% of its budget), to enable ICOM to exist and to operate internationally as an organisation. Nevertheless the degree of funds transferred to ICOM headquarters annually is always a source of some misunderstanding and tension for ICOM. [See (7)-(8) (p.23-4) under (V) MEMBERSHIP (pp.21-29) in this Report; and (XIII) FINANCIAL ISSUES (pp.69-75)]

It would be wise to tap the expertise of ICOM members on these questions (through the Advisory Committee/National Committee Chairs). An NC working party or task force could not only look at these questions afresh (as has been done before) but expand also to analyse and report on the role of ICOM members and programs WITHIN countries, relationships with national museums associations, and other matters that could open up more proactive possibilities and tasks for NC membership of ICOM.

c. An idea concerning the subscription-based finances of ICOM
One of the inescapable facts of the way ICOM has gathered (and indeed, has been forced to gather) its subscriptions over the years - through standardised international levels according to two currencies (USD & FF) - is that this produces extremely discriminatory conditions for members distributed in vastly diverse income-earning and local-currency contexts all over the world. This is one of the most troubling issues, in terms of equity, for an organisation with a cultural conscience (as ICOM must be) to grapple with. And it consumes a great amount of Advisory Committee session time when the National Committee Chairpersons meet..

Some basis of subscription must be maintained for ICOM. However it would be transformative for ICOM's heart and conscience on matters of equity if the subscription-rates paid from different contexts all over the world could be relativised..

"Five members of ICOM in every country of the world"
(A possible objective for ICOM)
Since the base-level of membership in any country required for the establishment of a National Committee is five persons within ICOM's Statutes [SS 14-5], then a global aim of ICOM should be to stimulate conditions whereby at least five subscribing memberships of ICOM are able to be achieved in any country in the world (according to UN recognition of nation-states). Every country has needs to conserve its own cultural heritage, and commands the right to be helped internationally to do so - since respect for the dignity of human beings and their culture are absolute rights.

On this basis of absolute rights, and the moral right to enlist international agencies concerned with protecting heritage and safeguarding cultural development in any country in the world, according to needs, ICOM has an opportunity to establish a new benchmark (and international standard) for its own performance and effectiveness:
"Five members of ICOM in every country of the world"

This could be achieved at an average financial level of around
$US 500 per country - which would continue to be covered by Individual Members in developed countries without special assistance. However it would provide the additional benchmark
:"$US 500 per country guarantees a world structure to support museums, cultural heritage, and promote cultural development."

It would transform ICOM's image at an external level, and its sense of fairness internally, if this could be achieved through an indexed-subsidy system (based on international economic/GDP data) that enabled ALL ICOM memberships to be re-calculated - and relativised according to comparative economic conditions in the countries where members are located - and the average earnings-capacity of museum personnel.

Every member should still contribute a basic amount of subscription to ICOM (proportionally), and indicate a genuine interest in and commitment to membership of the world community of museum professionals that ICOM represents. Indeed some members might well pay even higher levels of subscription - on an Individual or Institutional decision basis - if they wish to "purchase" higher levels of service from ICOM. However a base-standard of service for all, rendered to members in all countries of the world that seek to participate in ICOM, would be a new way of considering both subscriptions and services-delivery.

How subsidised?
A strengthened ICOM Foundation could take up objectives of this kind, seeking assistance through international agencies such as the World Bank (Cultural Heritage Program), philanthropic foundations and such entities world-wide. If a clear structure were established, with demonstrable limits to financial costs, but also demonstrable benefits globally, it could be a very clear and achievable proposition.
(It also includes some investment of funds from the recipients of services, all over the world - not just a "handout mentality".)

Whatever proved helpful to overcome this troubling issue of inequity would be welcome, for it has been one of the most time-consuming and corrosive problems that has weighed ICOM Advisory meetings down for years. Ideally, National Committee Chairpersons should be addressing some much more professionally challenging, high-order tasks through ICOM's Advisory Committee structures (as dealt with in this Report under (VII) the ADVISORY COMMITTEE (pp.35-37)).

d. Relationship with national museum associations
A number of strong national museums associations are worthy of study for ICOM (as well as others, where feasible), because they function very well in their respective countries, though with very different sources of funding and social context for each: the Norwegian Museums Association, Netherlands Museums Association, Finnish Museums Association (as very strong NMAs in Europe); the Museums Association of the UK (for both the UK and British-influenced countries); the American Association of Museums (for the USA); the Canadian Museums Association (combining both British and American influences to some degree); it would also be valuable to compare some national museums associations in other areas - in the former USSR, in the Asia-Pacific Region, and in Latin America. ICOM has much experience to draw on concerning Africa through its proactive stimulation of AFRICOM in recent years.

In each case it would be worth studying: (a) what are the relative strengths and special capacities of each of the national museums associations; and (b) how could ICOM National Committees work more co-operatively and productively with these bodies internally, while at the same time retaining an ICOM National Committee identity and structure to facilitate ICOM's work on an international basis?

e. Some other ideas that arose through the Task Force's work on NCs
ICOM could "buy services" from national museum associations where they are strong in certain countries (perhaps share data-bases on some matters, such as commonly maintained memberships). Another possibility would be "cross-marketing" of services, or in-kind exchange of services, between both entities.

These ideas could not be taken further by the present Task Force (ICOM-RTF) within the current brief and time-frame involved. They need specialist input and separate task force work on the issues raised - through ICOM's National Committees expertise. It is recommended that the general issue of ICOM's NC relations with NMAs should be referred through the Advisory to the National Committees themselves: for some brainstorming, expert discussion, data-gathering and special recommendations to come back to the AC and EC forums.

An additional idea raised through the ICOM-L discussions (by Per Rekdal, Norway, ICME Chairperson) was whether membership of a national museums association could be negotiated to include automatic membership of ICOM. (Implications: costs to ICOM through discounting and surrendered revenue?)



R36: That the National Committees should be much more than a netting and vetting system to harvest ICOM memberships. Rather, they should be a means of sourcing and interconnecting expertise locally and globally, and be more actively utilised to assist projection of inter-national issues for museums intra-nationally, and through these same networks to help brief local and national governments on issues of global concern to museums.
[See further, (R7) under (V) MEMBERSHIP (pp.21-29) in this Report.]

R37: That ICOM subscriptions levied through the National Committees, at present differentiated by a two-tier system of costs and based on World Bank/GDP statistics, should be further differentiated by a third tier, to accommodate more equitably those countries that fall between the discriminations of "developed" and "developing" nations as currently identified.

Comment: The third tier proposed as a category would target countries with a higher than $US 2000 and less than $10,000 per capita income according to World Bank statistics. A reduction of 10% in subscription level for members in such countries would result immediately in a depreciation of ICOM budget income of 75,000 FF, based on membership data of 31-10-99. However such a reduction is recommended on grounds of greater equity, and investment in the future of ICOM.

R38: That steps be undertaken through continual updating of comparative data, to ensure that the financial burdens of ICOM subscription-rates carried by members in developing nations, as a result of internal inflation and international currency fluctuations, do not cause them to be carrying disproportionately increased subscription costs in comparison with developed nations.

R39: That a recent decision of the Executive Council (95th Session, Madrid, Dec.1999) be publicised directly to the National Committee boards and members: that ICOM now waives restrictions on the subscription surcharges that National Committees can request of members (removing the former ceiling of 10% on such surcharges).This permits decisions about additional costs of providing appropriate services within countries to be a matter for local decision, by the National Committees themselves through their executive boards.

R40: That ICOM reaffirms that while the National Committees need to retain a clear ICOM identity, they should seek to work as productively as possible with national museums associations where they exist in many countries, to establish beneficial partnerships and avoid unnecessary duplication of activities.

R41: That a task force on National Committees, national subscription levels, membership servicing and costs, relationships with national museums associations, and related matters for ICOM NC members be established through the Advisory Committee, and composed from within the National Committees themselves. Its brief would be to investigate and report back to ICOM on comparative data across different national contexts, engage the advice of the Secretariat on membership and NC matters, and explore a three-part potential for the role of National Committees: (a) to assist museums development within countries by ensuring that museums personnel have access to ICOM's international networks of expertise; (b) to ensure that issues of international importance on museums and cultural heritage can be projected through networks within countries and appropriate advice be conveyed to local and national governments; and (c) to establish comparative international data on changes in museums' national funding and resourcing, and guidelines for co-operation with national museum associations, where they exist - and where no national associations of museums exist already, to promote their establishment.


The International Committees' great potential - as the circulatory system of specialised expertise in ICOM according to its international mission - is scarcely indicated in ICOM's core documents.


1. Definition in the Statutes
The International Committees are the first component of ICOM to be introduced in the Statutes by a short, action-oriented definition of purpose (Article 17):

The International Committees shall constitute the principal instruments for the work of ICOM and for the realization of its programmes and activities.[SS 17-1]

However their crucial value is soon by-passed in the formality of the Statutes. Instead we find the Committees' potential buried within functional description, routine responsibilities and administrative duties. This should be changed, and the incalculable value of the International Committees, connecting to the crux of ICOM's mission and existence, needs to be clearly expressed and projected out to the world.

These remarks are not meant to be disrespectful of the detailed work by our forebears that went into drafting these Statutes many years ago. Rather, it is important to understand the different aspects of organisational definition that are overburdening one principal document (the ICOM Statutes). These now need clarification and separation out into different kinds of documents for ICOM.

[See (II) Values Statement (pp.15-16) and (III) Mission Statement (p.17) for ICOM proposed near the beginning of this Report - as statements that can easily be lifted into many places and documents, and perform central reference and public relations functions for ICOM, quite outside the formalities of ICOM's constitution.]

2. Size of International Committees
The International Committees have grown greatly in number (there were 12 created originally in 1948; there are now 26), and even more in size. Looking to the largest, according to ICOM records in 2000: CECA (Education and Cultural Action) has 1596 members; ICOFOM (Museology) has 1533 members; ICOM-CC (Conservation) has 1440 members; ICMAH (Archaeology & History) has 1035 members; CIDOC (Documentation) has 984 members; CIMAM (Modern Art) has 951 members.

On the other hand, a comment from the SWOT analysis of ICOM by ICTOP (Training) might be inserted here (concerning Weaknesses):

Though the international committees are regarded as the primary means of achieving ICOM's objectives and programmes, and every member is allowed to join an international committee, almost half of current ICOM members have never joined any international committee.(Weakness#7:from SWOT Analysis of ICOM at ICTOP'S Annual Meeting, London, July 1999)

Though it may be a continuing ideal of ICOM to have more members join International Committees, there is already a serious problem of size and momentum of activities exceeding resources in many committees. In the Task Force's opinion (shifting somewhat from the first set of Strategic Scenarios), greater organisational liveliness, flexibility and responsiveness throughout ICOM is more important as an organisational objective than swelling the numbers in International Committees. Producing better communications, publications, different types of networked information, and a variety of ways of being conscious of ICOM's resources available to assist members (including electronic discussion groups) would be more beneficial to ICOM as a whole in the next few years than directly seeking to increase membership of International Committees as a measure of success.

As the statistics above concerning the six largest Committees reveal, size of the ICs is already an ambiguous issue: a problem as well as a measure of existing success.

The International Committee on Museum Security (ICMS) made an interesting proposal to the Task Force (through its Chairperson, Günter Dembski). The origin of the proposal was in an attempt to solve the voting/non-voting members complications for ICOM, and it assumed full membership of two ICs - whereas the Task Force has recommended a return to ONE membership only.

However the ICMS proposal throws up some lines of thinking that could be useful in different ways, for it considered GROUPING the ICs into two broadly differentiated groups, with the suggested right of joining one of each group:

Group A: Technical & Conceptual Committees:

Group B: Object Oriented Committees:

It would be valuable to have a task force composed from the Advisory Committee (which encompasses the Chairpersons of Committees) with some representation from the Executive Council (which has the ultimate authority of establishing any new ICs) to look at the ICs in more detail, and take this idea of clustered committees further: to brainstorm what other possibilities could emerge from the basic idea advanced by Günther Dembski.
[See further (R24) p.36, & recommendations under (VII) ADVISORY COMMITTEE (pp.35-37).]

What is most important in this thinking is the modelling of different internal relationships and more dynamic connections possible between International Committees, rather than simply regarding the ICs as an archipelago of relatively autonomous groups - as has been the tendency in ICOM until now.

3. Scale and complexity of some IC programs today
All of these Committees in fact exceed the limit of the total membership size of ICOM in 1974 (around 800), when ICOM was last restructured in a major way. And indeed in the activities-level and programs of some these committees (notably ICOM-CC), they have grown almost to equal the internal complexity of the whole of ICOM itself in its earlier years. This clearly poses sharp new questions of organisational functioning and survival - which ICOM must address as a matter or urgency.

a. The case of ICOM-CC (Conservation)
ICOM-CC, comprising 1440 members, incorporates 23 specialised Working Groups within its functioning. It produces publications through its Working Groups (and triennial conference pre-publications) of outstanding quality and professional value. Approximately 1000 professional papers have been presented and published in the past decade. Its triennial conferences may be equivalent in size and organisational complexity to staging an ICOM General Conference some years ago.

ICOM-CC is now facing daunting burdens: (a) organisationally (as to how to keep administering the scale and complexity of its activities); and (b) financially (in that its outlays increasingly exceed its capacities to recoup funds or be adequately supported from central ICOM funds for the present scope of its operations).

As a result of direct submissions to the Executive Council (in December 1999) and to the RTF Chairperson (in March 2000) it would be fair to report that ICOM-CC is extremely agitated about how best to plan its future. ICOM-CC is facing, among its many organisational challenges of change, three tough questions: (1) scale up income (generate more funds on a reliable basis through its own Committee efforts to support the present level of professional programs); (2) scale down activities and costs (and risk losing a great deal of the Committee's invaluable performance potential, as clearly established over recent years); (3) break away from ICOM (collect subscriptions directly though an independent identity, and organise activities from a new administrative base and secretariat).

The loss of even one of the major international committees would be a severe blow to ICOM's status and authority within the wider international community.
(Threat#7:from SWOT Analysis of ICOM at ICTOP Meeting, London, July 1999)

The last option would be a tragedy from both ICOM's and ICOM-CC's point of view, involving a serious loss of interconnected professional networks and enrichment to both - the very basis of ICOM's existence. And conserving the world's cultural heritage is seminal to the most important things that ICOM seeks to defend and do!

That...[to be separate from ICOM] is an option we do not wish to contemplate, since the wonderful thing about ICOM-CC is the opportunity to interact with the rest of the museum community. ...The small working group meetings have fostered dialogue, creativity and the development of networks of professionals throughout the world. And it is the networks of people which have become the most important thing about ICOM-CC. We have learned formally and informally from one another. (David Grattan, Canada, ICOM-CC Chairperson, through ICOM-L electronic discussion on ICOM reform, 3/2/2000)

4. ICOM's responsibilities TO and FOR the International Committees

a. ICOM's responsibilities TO the International Committees
A number of large International Committees have been experiencing an increasing sense of crisis as to how to manage their future within ICOM, and ICOM must urgently recognise and co-operate with their need to address their most difficult challenges: as to how they might reshape their current functioning, administration and financial support.

It is very difficult to organize an international meeting with a budget of less that US$ 40.000, even in the less developed countries (especially in them, because of the cost of translation and air tickets). In a country where the average museum has an annual budget of US$ 10.000-15.000 (or even less), this is a huge sum. Few national organizations want to finance that. ...[T]he same amount (when it exists) can be invested in national heritage or in refurbishing a national museum. (Tereza Scheiner, Brazil, ICOFOM Chairperson, on ICOM-L, 2/2/00

ICOM could assist Committees through developing data and models/test cases on means of helping to finance international meetings in less developed countries and regions; for example:

      1. where developmental aid has been available in service to the affirmed interests of developed countries or regions in others less developed economically (eg. SAMP (Swedish-African Museum Program) projects in Africa; and funding sources that have helped ICOM stimulate other programs in Africa and the eventual emergence of AFRICOM);
      2. examples of twinning possibilities in various parts of the world - Nordic countries working in the Asia-Pacific region? or western European museums developing twinning programs with eastern European museums?
      3. combined IC programs and initiatives that might be possible (joint programs, drawing on new/old funding sources in new ways).

b. Who should be dealing with the issues?
There are many ways to approach the question of current challenges and pressures for organisational change affecting ICOM's component bodies. And there are quite different options that could be pursued (various scenarios of change can be projected; and various allocations of resources possible). However one thing is certain: ICOM cannot defer these issues and hope that the Committees will work out their problems alone.

c. ICOM's responsibilities FOR the International Committees
ICOM does have responsibilities for the International Committees that operate in its name: first, in terms of organisational values and professional practices; second (and much more worrying at present, in view of the scale of activities now involved), in terms of the potential for any serious problems legally or financially to come to rest on the shoulders of the Executive Council. More specifically, under French law, the responsibilities rest on the shoulders of the principal officers of the EC (the President, Vice-Presidents and Treasurer of ICOM). The worst possible eventuality is that these principal officers would be liable at law if malpractice were allowed and not corrected, or serious debts incurred in ICOM's name without the Committee concerned being prepared or able to discharge such debts.
[See further under (VIII) EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (pp.38-42), (XIII) FINANCIAL ISSUES (pp.69-75), and (XIV) LEGAL & STATUTORY ISSUES (pp.76-86).]

d. ICOM must take good initiatives to fix its internal problems.
On the International Committees' problems of growth and resources, ICOM should reach into its own organisational parts, tap expertise accessible to it: through the Advisory Committee and Executive Council (selectively); through people from a diversity of backgrounds who may be well experienced to understand the organisational difficulties being faced by the largest Committees; and most importantly through Chairpersons and other key people on large IC boards who carry the load and know best what the Committees are facing. Such problems should be task-forced, cross-functional, and dealt with through electronic discussion, problem-focusing, debate of possibilities - and proposed solutions.
[See suggestions on "organisational tools":Task Forces, Working Groups, Discussion Forums etc. (p.90-1) in (XVI) OTHER ISSUES/ FURTHER TASKS (pp.88-91)]

In summary: the responsibilities concerning the International Committees' functioning are too great (operationally, financially and legally) to be left unresolved. Problems weighing down the International Committees also affect the entire architecture of ICOM as an international organisation. They pose threats to ICOM's life-supply systems that circulate through the International Committees: the precious food-chain of professional networks, collegiality, interacting programs and expertise that sustain ICOM.

5. Voting/non-voting members in International Committees
Following the Executive Council resolution of June 1991 on this issue - permitting increased application of members to join THREE International Committees, but with full voting rights in only ONE of these - committee membership has grown (in some cases doubling or trebling), without any proportional increase in resources for their administration.

Resulting distinctions of numerous "non-voting" from "voting" members within the rolls of International Committees have caused confusion and strain for individual Committees. Indeed even members themselves, since the introduction of this provision, have reported trouble in remembering which International Committee is their home-base for voting rights to be exercised, versus two others of interest in which they cannot cast a formal vote or hold office.

International Committees have been struggling to support a much larger interest-group in mailings than their resources equip them to handle. ICOM transfers a subvention (and it must be said a very small amount) per voting member registering an attachment to a particular International Committee. However the Committees' administration of members has become overburdened by the need to handle the greatly increased number of non-voting members - who bring no transfer of ICOM funds with them to the Committee they join in this capacity.

For example, of CECA's 1596 members, only 860 are voting members (and bring a subvention to the Committee from ICOM); of ICOFOM's 1533, only 423 members (approximately one-quarter) bring a subvention; of ICMAH's 1035 members, only 537 (approximately half the total number).

6. Return to membership and voting rights in ONE Committee only
In the Task Force's view the problem of voting/non-voting members within ICs deserves a decisive remedy as soon as possible (through EC resolution): by returning the situation to the earlier status quo as to full membership and voting rights in only ONE International Committee. This should again allow each Committee to concentrate on a core, committed membership seeking to participate actively in its programs.
[See Recommendation (R41) below]

However there is a new, alternative potential, which would be different from a simple reversion to the former status quo (and the rather restricted and enclosed character of Committees' activity prior to 1991). The old system encouraged singular disciplinary orientation through solo choice of International Committee. However the progressive path for ICOM today would be a two-way movement: (a) to restore conditions that enable ICs to function better in terms of their primary disciplinary objectives; (b) to open up information and awareness (and possibly more diverse opportunities for participation and support) to other parts of ICOM.

7. Networked communications and more open participation
Today, greatly increased and cheaper communication possibilities, together with a changed intellectual orientation towards inter-disciplinary work in innovative museum practice, make it possible to access more news of the particular activities OF all parts of ICOM, THROUGHOUT the whole of ICOM (at least at a basic level of information provided and connections promoted).

This could be done through the comprehensive shift towards more intricately networked information, and networked diffusion of news on programs, activities, workshops, conferences and publications of ICOM, recommended as part of a revised approach to COMMUNICATIONS, which has become one of three recommended PRINCIPAL OBJECTIVES for ICOM in the next few years - see PART C: RECOMMENDED ACTION PLAN FOR ICOM, 2000-2004.

If good solutions to the problems of administrative growth and appropriate resourcing for the largest International Committees can be achieved, the International Committees could continue specialist work with their core constituencies and colleagues on a stronger basis. However they could also attract others who might be interested to participate in their programs and meetings (on a percentage-of-registrants and higher-fee basis, if necessary); or receive newsletters, seek their specialist advice, purchase publications (also on an appropriate costs-recovery basis), and generally understand their work better.

a. ICTOP's solutions to mailing/servicing costs and participation
A good example of an International Committee that has recently instituted a twin policy of costs-reduction but expanded information and services to all of ICOM is ICTOP (Training and Personnel). In 1999 ICTOP decided it could no longer carry the financial burden of information-supply to a large proportion of non-voting members, and imposed a small charge for basic servicing. However ICTOP also pursues a committed, democratic philosophy and seeks to broadcast its activities and welcome possibilities of participation by any member of ICOM at any time.

ICTOP now provides three avenues of information and participation for non-members of its Committee:

        1. to pay a small annual service charge (100 F Francs);
        2. to follow ICTOP's programme through information in ICOM News and through e-mail notices on ICOM-L, or
        3. to download ICTOP publications, meeting programmes, and booking forms and other mailings from the ICTOP web site.

As part of this process we have now loaded both the current half-yearly newsletter, "it - Information on Training" plus the previous six issues, covering 1996-1999, on the web site in full page facsimile (Adobe Acrobat) format.
(Patrick Boylan, UK, Chairperson ICOM-ICTOP, on ICOM-L discussion list, 14/2/2000)

Various Committees are moving into electronic publication of their newsletters and other material, and have also reduced costs significantly in this way.

The Task Force notes that there are issues of equity in terms of electronic access. However it is of the view that ICOM must resolutely move forward electronically because of the overwhelming considerations of greater information-diffusion possibilities, costs reduction, and in fact - in another way of taking the equity issue seriously - the improved opportunities to access information to members who have very few opportunities or access to international travel, as is presently the case. If ICOM can download information into any country or region in the world on a receiving computer, there are increased opportunities to access information into all countries and localities through local networks - even acknowledging that the number or museum professionals who can access a computer varies enormously from country to country.

In summary: the Task Force believes that the tools for more cost-effective diffusion of ICOM's work now transform the potential of increased services-delivery to museum professionals world-wide. They facilitate enrichment of ICOM's layering of activities and information-exchange through the whole of the organisation's parts.

This situation opens up the intellectual interests and energy-potential of ICOM to a much greater degree than imaginable earlier, and enables it to become a more exciting and rich totality to belong to as a world-wide professional association.

8. Number and functionality of International Committees
Permission to establish an International Committee is granted exclusively by the Executive Council under the Statutes, although the EC is obliged to seek the views of the Advisory Committee before doing so [SS 17-3]. The traditional orientation of ICOM on the question of permitting the establishment of a new International Committee has been that of guardian or gatekeeper. Permission to establish a Committee is exercised cautiously. This is wise and appropriate, given the responsibilities any new Committee will undertake in ICOM's name (and the legal and financial implications that can be involved through its activities).

However, apart from due caution on financial, legal and organisational capabilities (and ICOM's own responsibilities to each of the Committees it brings into being), the arguments concerning the validity of professional domains encompassed by International Committees deserve reconsideration.

The International Committees have an historical existence within ICOM according to disciplinary specialisations and professional domains that were much more clear-cut a few decades ago than they are now. The whole museum profession is more complex in its many new specialisations and kinds of training incorporated within it today, from art and natural history curatorship, for example, to museology and education, to marketing, public relations, exhibition design, management and museum security. Furthermore there is continual border-crossing and greater interaction of different parts of the profession within the life of museums (both intellectually and practically) from day to day.

a. Proposal for University Museums IC - a case-study for deciding new ICs
The long-standing and still unresolved application to ICOM for the establishment of an International Committee of University Museums has brought some new perspectives to bear on the question of International Committees. The debate about university museums and where they would fit in logically within ICOM's IC structure (or not do so) has kept shifting ground, and finally gives rise to a fresh look at the fundamental issues underlying ICOM's reasoning on this proposal. The issue was first discussed at the Executive Council meeting in May 1998, and passed into the following year's AC and EC sessions as an unresolved issue. In December 1999 the matter was referred by the EC to the Task Force to consider and form a recommendation on the matter - or at least give the issue a fresh appraisal in relation to wider ICOM reform issues (for the question must ultimately go back to the Executive Council itself for decision).

The Task Force discussed the issue and is of the view that a re-examination of fundamental grounds underlying the establishment and functioning of International Committees as a whole is important. What are their most important purposes and roles within ICOM? in relation to each other? and in service to ICOM's mission? Does the character of organisational change envisaged through the Task Force's work have an impact back upon the question of acceptance or refusal of the application to ICOM to set up a committee for university museums? RTF would answer that it does. In the Task Force's opinion, if it is clearer what ICOM is seeking to achieve through the International Committees, and how the ICs function organically within the whole organisation's aims and objectives (as well as for their own internal purposes), then the decision about the university museums becomes clearer. There is a better understood framework for making the decision.

9. ICOM as "gatekeeper" or "midwife"?
Is the most important issue for ICOM to protect clarity of distinct domains for the International Committees (to be a gatekeeper) or to facilitate professional activities and contacts internationally in whatever ways professionals themselves find a need to pursue (a midwife role for ICOM)?

Flexibility is needed... There are already now many active and interesting networks of museum professionals acting outside ICOM, e.g. the Group of City History Museums, Hands On! the Group of Children's Museums. They might be interested to gain the status of an International Committee, if ICOM would be more flexible and open as an organization.
The simpler organization [of ICOM] would make it easier to accept new International Committees and to give up old ones, when not needed any more.
(Response to Task Force from Outi Peisa, Chairperson, ICOM Finnish National Committee)

The key questions about accepting a new International Committee into ICOM, so long as the professional claim is a serious one, should not (according to the Task Force's view) be focused on protection of domains or regulation of identities. According to the new mission and more flexible, internally connected approach to ICOM's functioning - as proposed by the Task Force and pursued throughout this Report - the most important issues for ICOM to examine should be: professional desire and need; opportunities for professional connections and advancement internationally; increased cross-disciplinary networks; and a richer ICOM in terms of the professional services and mutual assistance it can enable.

10. Definition of International Committee domains
In the definition of domains that ICOM has already established through its 26 International Committees, inconsistencies and overlap flourish already.

Some ICs are discipline-based (Natural History; Science and Technology; Ethnography; Archaeology & History - but also, within this field, Egyptology, rejoining many different disciplinary interests in the focus on country/region). There is Fine Arts, and Applied Art - but also Modern Art, ignoring medium distinctions. Some ICs are based on institutional type (Historic House Museums; Money and Banking Museums; Literary Museums). One is based on a single material technology (Glass). Others on particular traditions of cultural production (Musical Instruments; Costume). One is defined by orientation to the communities served (Regional Museums). Others are focused on the technical work of museums (Audiovisual & New Technologies; Documentation; Conservation; Exhibition Exchange; Management; Marketing and Public Relations; Museum Security; Architecture & Museum Techniques). There is Museology [ICOFOM] - but of course the International Movement for a New Museology [MINOM] sits outside the IC structure, as an Affiliated Organization of ICOM. Training of Personnel, Education & Cultural Action, pursue other orientations, and overlap further with many domains.

ICOM does not have a clear rationale on the basis of domain integrity by which it could deny the application from the university museums. One argument raised during discussion of the university museums issue was that granting this application would force some ICOM members (located professionally within universities) to choose between an existing International Committee or joining the new IC focused on university museums. It is true that the Task Force's recommendations clearly favour the return to membership of ONE IC only, as a primary affiliation and home-base within ICOM's International Committees. And it would not be possible to serve on the board of more than one Committee or vote within more than one.

However, if the re-orientation for ICOM recommended in this Report towards greater internal connections were implemented - and if the boundaries defining all International Committees were made more porous and open to each other - ICOM should itself be affirmatively richer as an organisation, and all members should be better informed, to learn more progressively, and possibly have opportunities to participate in more parts of ICOM's programs and activities than previously.

Opportunities actually to travel and attend meetings internationally are already a question of limited time and financial resources for most ICOM members. Members in developing countries have fewer opportunities to do so. However enriched information networks, communications, and electronic means of dissemination of ideas among self-selecting groups of shared interest and need within ICOM could enable an increased diffusion of expertise. Mutual interaction internationally may take many forms (and actual travel should not be the exclusive measure of International Committees' effectiveness and success).

ICOM should encourage the development of discussion groups like [ICOM-L], cHDEVL and others, which enable us to exchange ideas and enhance our work without having to pay an air ticket.(Tereza Scheiner, Brazil, ICOFOM Chairperson, on ICOM-L, 2/2/00)

Mutual assistance, in a variety of ways, has to be restated as one of the primary objectives in ICOM's existence, and should be an axis of ICOM's ongoing self-definition.

11. Organisational resources to support new Committees
There is one further issue (and perhaps the only cautionary one for ICOM to consider in its decision-making on any proposal to establish a new International Committee): the organisational resources to support and administer further functional division of ICOM's parts.

The issue of resources brings the university museums question - itself a good case-study for issues of change - back to the Executive Council to determine (after whatever advice may be given by the Advisory Committee). Resources review and resources development: that, in overview, is one of the "core tasks" defined in this Report for the Executive Council to focus upon.



R42: That ICOM members should have the right to join only ONE International Committee as a full member - with the right to vote and hold office in that Committee - and that the provision for membership of two other Committees on a non-voting basis (following the resolution of the Executive Council at its 73rd session in June 1991) should be rescinded.

R43: That all International Committees should meanwhile take steps to provide basic information about their programs, activities, and publications available, through simple means (for example, electronically) to any member or part of ICOM interested, and at minimal cost or burden to the Committee administratively. In connection with this Recommendation, it is understood that additional charges may need to be imposed on non-members of any Committee to receive publications or other services tailored principally for members - however Committees are encouraged to distribute knowledge and results of their activities as broadly as possible to other parts of ICOM, on a cost-recovery basis.

Comment: Each International Committee should look afresh at establishing appropriate arrangements (and instituting charges, where they need to be applied on a costs-return basis) to cover costs of its activities and services, while also considering what services could be provided (publications, collaborative programs, participation?) to interested professionals from other parts of ICOM.

It is further RECOMMENDED, therefore, as an affirmative direction for ICOM:

R44: That while recognising that all International Committees must give priority to their core membership in order to function well, any opportunities to permit members from other parts of ICOM to experience and constructively participate in activities and meetings of any International Committee (on whatever administratively regulated basis the IC finds necessary), should be encouraged. This would be helpful in the cause of building up cross-specialist relationships and enriched professional knowledge of issues affecting museums and cultural heritage work today in all parts of the profession embraced by ICOM.

Comment (1): It is not intended that International Committees should be overwhelmed by interests and numbers they could not cope with under the changes recommended in this Report. However it is envisaged that broader exposure and understanding of IC expertise would support ICOM's encompassing mission, while the ICs themselves could be more strongly supported by increased interest in and knowledge of their specialist work, both within and beyond ICOM.

Comment (2):Inter-Committee planning could produce some new possibilities for ICOM, and these could be supported as programs for affirmative-action-level funding from ICOM centrally.

For example: (a) a combined meeting and program of ICOM-CC (Conservation), CIMAM (Modern Art), ICME (Ethnography), and ICOFOM (Museology) on "Issues of Changing Definition, Interpretation and Conservation of Modern and Contemporary Art in a Culturally Diversified World" could be a stimulating cross-disciplinary venture. A combined meeting around a common theme could also permit separate sessions on some specific issues of a more specialised nature for each IC.

A further example might be: (b) a combined meeting and program of INTERCOM (Management), ICTOP (Training), MPR (Public Relations), AVICOM (Audiovisual and New Technologies) on "Museums Challenged by an Environment of Change".

The same ICs could re-cast a joint program differently for delivery in developing parts of the world, where local conditions and levels of need (and local participants) would be taken into account.
(Note Resolution 2 (ICTOP Annual Meeting, London, July 1979): "Training and Indigenous People: ICTOP supports and recommends the development of appropriate training strategies that will enable indigenous people and communities to develop and sustain their natural and cultural heritage.")

Comment (3) It is recognised that Committees - in their increased ability to devise a variety of professional experiences for members - also need at times to impose restrictions on numbers of attendance at meetings (perhaps even a maximum of 20/30 members for a successful workshop experience). Discretionary judgements in these matters must sit with the ICs, who are investing time and their own expertise in organising their Committees' activities, and they must decide how to manage their programs most effectively.

Comment (4): The general plea and recommendation from the Task Force is that International Committees seek ways to open further the POTENTIAL of knowledge-diffusion and involvement from other parts of ICOM - towards the aims of wider collegiality, inter-disciplinarity, and organisational enrichment - though the ICs would retain the right to determine the ACTUAL FORMS that this might take in their specific programs.

R45: That a task force be established, predominantly from within the Advisory Committee (with some small representation from the Executive Council), and predominantly from the International Committee Chairpersons (but also including National Committee and Affiliated Organization representation) to examine the International Committees in ICOM. The brief would be to examine the workings of the International Committees on a comparative basis - their programs, organisational difficulties and needs - as well as reviewing their optimum size and possibilities of more productive connections being made between them (and to the National Committees' work within particular countries). The approach to these issues should be exploratory, not coercive, but seeking to come up with some helpful analysis and recommendations concerning the International Committees in an organisational overview, reporting back to the AC and EC.

Comment: It would be interesting for this task force to examine possibilities of ICs sharing any resources - for example joint secretariat services for the organisation of joint projects or programs - and to work with the ICOM Secretariat to explore possibilities of assisting the ICs to feel better serviced and supported by ICOM as a whole. The task force should also review possible closer connections with the nine Affiliated Organizations of ICOM that most closely relate to the character of the International Committees [see (XII) AFFILIATED ORGANIZATIONS (pp.67-68) in this Report, and (R48) (p.68)]. In addition, see point (6) (p.71), under section (XIII) FINANCIAL ISSUES (pp.69-75); & (XIV) LEGAL & STATUTORY ISSUES (pp.76-86).

Recommended basis of decision-making on any proposals to form new ICs

R46: That the Executive Council should assess any proposal to form a new International Committee of ICOM on the basis of the following criteria: clearly defined professional need from within the museums community for interaction and mutual assistance through ICOM, and ICOM's organisational capacities and resources to facilitate such interaction, interconnecting it to ICOM's structures while maintaining the efficiency and effectiveness of the whole organisation.

Comment: The Task Force has considered the question referred to it by the Executive Council - as to how best to assess the proposal to form an IC for university museums in terms of organisational restructure as a whole - by treating this as a case-study for the rationale of accepting ANY proposal to form an IC in future through ICOM. The background issues have been discussed in detail in the text of this Task Force Report, and RTF finally returns this issue to the Executive Council for decision.

In summary: The approach recommended by the Task Force to the Executive Council is that the question of university museums - or any other serious proposal to form an International Committee of ICOM - should be considered on the basis of demonstrated desire and need for professional interaction by the parties concerned (rather than existing IC interests or "domain-views"); ICOM's readiness to facilitate such a request for professional interaction and mutual assistance internationally, as a declared axis of ICOM's existence; and finally, the organisation's resource-capacities to administer and support a new Committee, and its ability to connect that Committee's activities effectively within the existing activities-framework of the whole organisation.



The establishment and growth of Regional Organizations in ICOM represent a significant shift in the organisation's character in the last two decades.

Three aspects may be noted here:

  1. a movement of decentralisation and re-distribution of many ICOM activities into regional configurations (even some of the International Committees have spawned regional groupings in recent years);
  2. the rising importance of areas of the world that have not played a strong role in ICOM's earlier life, but must increasingly do so as ICOM becomes a more genuinely international organisation with networks in all the major geographical regions of the world;
  3. the emergence of greater diversity of concepts in the cultural heritage-sector vocabulary, reflecting such changes.

1. The increased number of Regional Organizations
Regional Organizations constitute a further part of ICOM that has expanded since ICOM last experienced a major restructure in the 1970s: from one such organisation (ICOM-Asia and the Pacific) to seven at present (four of these covering countries across the continent of Africa). The basis for forming a Regional Organization is a successful request to the Executive Council (a) from THREE National Committees in a particular region; (b) supported by a positive recommendation of endorsement from the Advisory Committee.

2. Objectives
Objectives as stated in ICOM's Statutes are: "to provide a forum for exchange of information and co-operation between National Committees, museums and...[professional museum personnel] in the region for which they are established." [SS 15-3]

However some Regional Organizations' activities reveal that they are taking on more diverse and proactive responsibilities in recent years.

3. Governing executive board
The Regional Organizations are certainly envisaged as having a governing structure and Model Rules for operation similar to those of the National and International Committees. Moreover the President of ICOM and Chairperson of the Advisory Committee (together with any EC members resident in the region) have ex officio status on an RO Board. However there is a wide spectrum of possibilities left open in the Statutes between "provid[ing] a forum for exchange of information and co-operation..." and establishing an Executive Officer for a Regional Organization through assistance from the ICOM Secretariat.

4. Distribution of Regional Organizations
Contrary to any assumption that the present distribution of Regional Organizations represents a balanced potential of regional action for ICOM, the origins and development of the ROs has been circumstantial.

a. Asia & Pacific region
This region is covered by the oldest Regional Organization of ICOM: ICOM-ASPAC (ICOM-Asia and the Pacific).

However many other configurations are active or possible within this huge region:

      1. The Executive Council recently admitted PIMA (the Pacific Islands Museums Association) as an Affiliated Organization of ICOM - an important new organisation for care of cultural heritage across some of the smallest island nations within the huge "lake" of the Pacific, one of the largest of the world's oceans. Small as PIMA is in size, the cultural networks it intersects are spatially and socially extensive. PIMA has close ties with ICOM-ASPAC (and through Polynesian cultural links connects through New Zealand (Maori culture) across to Hawaii, Fiji and the Cook Islands in a curving easterly direction, while its Melanesian and Micronesian cultural networks take its connections in a north-westerly direction through Papua-New Guinea and beyond).
      2. The huge countries and populations of east Asia (e.g. China, Japan); north Asia (e.g. Kazakhstan, Mongolia) south Asia (e.g. India, Pakistan) south-east Asia (e.g. Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia) are all incorporated within the overarching reach of ICOM-ASPAC. Nevertheless they sometimes conduct programs (and could foreseeably conduct many more in ICOM's name) that service particular specialist or sub-regional museum needs for mutual assistance and collaboration across the countries indicated.
      3. This enormous region (including more than half the world's population, the largest proportion of indigenous peoples and thousands of the world's languages), has not been strongly represented in the central councils of ICOM, with the great exception of having provided an ICOM President (Dr Saroj Ghose of India, President 1992-1998). Yet the region's many cultural traditions and diverse networks of inter-national contact and co-operation are slowly gaining a more detailed consciousness within the affairs of ICOM.

b. Africa
Four of ICOM's Regional Organizations link National Committees across the continent of Africa: ICOM-CIAO (West Africa); ICOMAC (Central Africa); ICOM-ARAB and ICOM-MAGHREB. (However SADCAMM, representing southern countries, sits outside the RO structure for Africa - being an Affiliated Organization of ICOM [Southern African Development Community Association of Museums & Monuments].)

ICOM has undertaken intense program initiatives over the last ten or more years in Africa. One of the most concrete results in terms of the present discussion has been the emergence in 1999 of AFRICOM, with its own board (and administrative assistance until the end of 2000 from the ICOM Secretariat). ICOM has sought to mature and consolidate its long-standing initiatives in Africa throughout the 1998-2001 triennium (meanwhile through the same triennium seeking to raise initiatives to a higher level through ICOM-LAC, and nurture comparable initiatives for the future through ICOM-ASPAC). Through such a stepped-mechanism, the Executive Council has sought to shift ICOM's priorities for program initiatives progressively from region to region: from Africa, to Latin America, and then to the Asia-Pacific region.

c. Latin America
incorporates networks through National Committees in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Among its various achievements in recent years, its collaboration with the American Association of Museums in developing the ground-breaking Summit of the Museums of the Americas (together with ICOM Canada and MAC) stands out (as discussed below).

d. Europe
The most recent (seventh) Regional Organization, ICOM-EUROPE, arose in the last few years, perhaps spurred by museum colleagues' desire to link initiatives and programs across eastern and western Europe following the break-up of the former Soviet Union.

ICOM-Europe is still in its founding period, has encompassed various programs within its scope, but has yet to reveal its future potential (which could be very important in linking networks of museum professionals across a hugely diversified territory of history and socio-political contexts of mutual assistance).

5. Voting rights at an ICOM General Assembly
No voting rights (for resolutions or Executive Council election at the ICOM General Assembly) are provided for Regional Organizations under the Statutes - in contrast to the National and International Committees (each granted FIVE votes) and Affiliated Organizations (each granted THREE votes, if half their members are members of ICOM; only ONE vote if fewer than half are ICOM members).

Presumably, the exclusion of Regional Organizations from votes in their own right at an ICOM General Assembly results from the provision for voting rights within the National Committees from which they are constituted. However the considerable responsibilities that may be taken on by Regional Organizations can (by an alternative argument) seem to leave them unfairly disenfranchised at a General Assembly of ICOM - in comparison with Affiliated Organizations, many of whose members may not be ICOM members at all.

The illogical situation under the current Statutes may be seen in the following:

  • MAC (Museums Association of the Caribbean), as an Affiliated Organization of ICOM, has voting rights at a General Assembly, but ICOM-Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC) has none.
  • PIMA (Pacific Islands Museums Association), as a newly joined Affiliated Organization of ICOM, has acquired voting rights at a General Assembly, but the much larger ICOM-Asia & Pacific (ASPAC) has none.

Moreover, the International Committees themselves did not originally have voting rights in ICOM, but gained them only as their importance grew. The ICs were first granted franchise rights under the massive reforms adopted in Copenhagen in 1974 (but granted only 2 votes per Committee). ICs were finally put on the same basis as NCs two decades later, and granted 5 votes per Committee in 1995 (at Stavanger). It is time to look at the growing importance of Regional Organizations, similarly, within ICOM.

6. Resources
In the Statutes as drafted in the early 1970s (revised only in internal details in 1989 & 1995), there is an ambiguity around the issue of resources needed for the functioning of the Regional Organizations. On the one hand, it is stated that they "may at their own expense arrange conferences, produce newsletters or other publications and do all such other things as are necessary, or convenient, in pursuit of [their] objectives" [SS 15-4]. On the other hand, considerable assistance from the Secretariat of ICOM was envisaged as a possibility in some instances. "With the agreement of the Executive Council, the Secretary-General may provide such assistance to a Regional Organization in the conduct of its affairs as thought fit, including the appointment of a member of the ICOM Secretariat to be the Executive Officer of the Regional Organization, or the designation of a person resident in the region to carry out this function." [SS 15-6].

The issue of resources for Regional Organizations deserves review, as is recommended in this Report for other parts of ICOM.

7. Changes in ICOM's vocabulary and consciousness through regionalisation
As ICOM incorporates more interaction with many different parts of the world, it experiences an opening out and expansion of viewpoints concerning culture and heritage. More varied values and descriptions are added to the discussion (and conceptualisation) of culture and heritage. Some old assumptions are altered; some new assumptions come into play: challenging, shifting, but also enriching the processes of cultural interpretation impacting on the work of museums and their care of cultural heritage today.

a. Intangible cultural heritage - ICOM Conference theme for Seoul (Korea), 2004
The planned staging of the ICOM General Assembly and triennial General Conference in Seoul (Korea) in 2004 has many implications for raising the organisation's consciousness of specific tasks and potential in the whole Asian region in the years ahead for ICOM. And notably, the proposed theme of Museums and Intangible Cultural Heritage will change ICOM's consciousness of the multiplicity of cultural constructs today subsumed within the term "cultural heritage".

b. Sustainable communities (Summit, Museums of the Americas, Costa Rica, 1998)
A significant example of change in consciousness (and appearing in ICOM's Values Statement in this Report) is the concept of sustainability of a community's ongoing cultural development - something reaching into the present and future, beyond earlier museum ideas of care of collections and interpreting cultural heritage from the past. This concept became a focal point of the "hemispheric conference" (Summit of the Museums of the Americas) at San José, Costa Rica, in April 998, under the title Museums and Sustainable Communities. This Conference was a difficult, but finally very important venture for ICOM to have supported (in partnership with the AAM and other supporting bodies).

The Summit of the Museum of the Americas gathered, for the first time ever, museum professionals from all countries in the Western Hemisphere to discuss the relationship between museums and sustainable communities. ...Until recently, the majority of museums interpreted their responsibility to serve society in terms of educating the public. In this new paradigm, museums have to re-examine their role in the communities they serve. The Summit challenged participants to think about their communities - whether local, national, or international; whether they are the general public or a specialized scholarly group - and consider new relationships that will contribute to the sustainable development of each.
(Marta de la Torre, Getty Conservation Institute, in Museums and Sustainable Communities/ Museos y Communidades Sostenibles, Summit of the Museums of the Americas/Cumbre de Museos de America, San José, Costa Rica,1998, p.vi)

[W]e have come to realize that development is based largely on interdisciplinary forces that integrate economic, ecological, and social factors and at the same time take into account different sectors of civil society, the academy, private enterprise, and nongovernmental organizations. ... ICOM/LAC proposed that the Summit adopt as its central theme "Museums and Sustainable Communities" so that the cultural sector could play a role in sustainable development by creating projects at the local, national, and regional levels.
(Lorena San Román, President, ICOM/LAC/ ICOM-Costa Rica, in Museums and Sustainable Communities/ Museos y Communidades Sostenibles, Summit of the Museums of the Americas/Cumbre de Museos de America, San José, Costa Rica,1998, p.vii)

Development agencies such as the World Bank have begun to recognize the basic importance of culture in the development process... At the 1994 Summit of the Americas, hemispheric leaders approved a plan that stated, "Cultural development is a fundamental and integral component of development in the Americas and has an inherent capability to enrich our societies and to generate greater understanding among our countries."
(Edward H. Able, Jr., President and CEO, American Association of Museums, in Museums and Sustainable Communities/ Museos y Communidades Sostenibles, Summit of the Museums of the Americas/Cumbre de Museos de America, San José, Costa Rica,1998, p.viii)

In overview, the regional activities picture is rich and diversifying for ICOM:

  • The Summit of the Americas in Costa Rica in April1998, and the ideas behind it and embodied in its Action Plan, have secured new paradigms for museums' actions in future years, through ICOM-LAC.
  • The concepts that will come forward in the ICOM Conference in Seoul in 2004, have many implications that suggest new directions for ICOM's development.
  • ICOM-ASPAC's recent programs open up important new directions for ICOM acting at a local and community capacity-building level: for example, a Training Workshop in the Management of Cultural Centres for Pacific Member States of UNESCO, conducted in Cairns, Australia, in November1999; a museums and sustainable development training program conducted in Bhopal, India, in January 2000; and a planned "Object-ID" capacity-building program through UNESCO Regional Office in Hanoi, being developed for delivery in Vietnam in the near future (all of these developed and led by ICOM-ASPAC Chairperson, Amareswar Galla).
  • The year 2000 is witnessing the first full year of autonomous development by the newly formed AFRICOM (President, Shaje'a Tshiluila - a member of ICOM's Executive Council).

These achievements indicate a future wherein an increasing diversity of concepts and programs at the local and regional level would open out (and change) the dynamics of ICOM at the international level of its operations, policy development, representation and advocacy.

8. Regionalisation of International Committees' activities - the example of ICOFOM LAM

An interesting example of the potential for an International Committee's activities to be extended within a certain region is provided by both CECA (Education and Cultural Action) and ICOFOM (ICOFOM-LAM/ Museology-Latin American region), as reported on through ICOM-L by Tereza Scheiner.

International Committees must be regionalized as well - and ICOFOM LAM is a wonderful example of it. But, of course, regionalization of international committees brings us to the very much discussed problem of financing of international committees: ICOM must acknowledge that it is very difficult for regional groups of international committees to receive ANY KIND of financial support from any institution in the region. They do not represent countries, just ideas. So, regionalized international committees (like ICOFOM and CECA) must start to discuss with ICOM how to deal with this problem. ... I propose ICOM tries to strengthen regional organizations and national committees, as forums for the expression of cultural diversity. (Tereza Scheiner, Brazil, ICOFOM Chairperson, on ICOM-L, 2/2/00)

There is also a proposal to establish a Visitor Studies Working Group in the Asia Pacific Regional under the umbrella of CECA. This came out of the recent ICOM-South Asia meeting in Bhopal, where participants felt that more multiple understandings of audiences have to be developed as ICOM addresses the relevance of museums in contemporary societies (non-western as well as western), and in ongoing endeavours to find common ground between heritage management and sustainable development across a broad spectrum of diverse social contexts.

9. Regionalisation, sub-regionalisation, and inter-regionalisation of ICOM's future programs and activities
Summarising the present situation: some entities with a specifically regional orientation are located within the Affiliated Organizations structure (four organizations currently); some entities acting in ICOM's name are located within the Regional Organizations structure (seven organizations currently); one new ICOM-entity overarches four others that preceded its existence (AFRICOM, which supervenes the divisions between ICOM-ARAB, ICOM-MAHGREB, ICOMAC, and CIAO, as the four Regional Organizations in Africa - while SADCAMM, for southern Africa, sits elsewhere as an Affiliated Organization). Meanwhile some International Committees (eg. CECA and ICOFOM) have begun to form regional groupings and to act with a regional focus. The Commonwealth Association of Museums is a further Affiliated Organization of ICOM that extends out in manifold directions across the globe (through its specific British-oriented history), but also connects closely with many activities of ICOM that sit primarily within a regional-structure focus. It is a unique organisation within the whole mosaic of ICOM identities, in that its networks are global, interconnecting professionals across all continents, and yet it functions on a more inter-regional basis in actuality.

Clearly this situation reveals a great cross-over and potential overlap of activities. Picking up various threads in this Report that impact on ICOM's potential to act increasingly through regional structures, it is clear that further analysis needs to be given to ICOM's future in terms of regional initiatives (impacting at both local and international levels). These could constitute a major part of ICOM's future development in terms of program-initiatives in the next decade. They could consume very large resources in the delivery of such programs - strengthening ICOM immeasurably as a global organisation if such initiatives prosper; or weakening it to a point of great jeopardy if they overstretch the organisation beyond its base-levels of recoverable resources or secure existence.

Such an overview provides compelling reasons to give the questions raised in this whole section of the Report much greater attention in the near future. Regionalisation (which includes complex forms of localisation) of ICOM could be the basis of great re-direction of resources within ICOM in forthcoming years. This depends not only on regional initiatives and activities alone, but on ICOM's improved capacities organisationally as proposed and articulated throughout all sections of this review and Report by the Task Force.

As with other parts of this Report, the Task Force considers that much expertise that exists within or closely affiliated to ICOM (through the Advisory Committee and its networks) should be drawn upon to workshop further the issues raised here in overview. The Task Force has sought to establish an interconnected framework for organisational change, providing a broad picture of some of the key issues and questions that ICOM needs to address and take forward as a whole organisation. Many others' energies can be drawn into this ongoing work, provide further data and viewpoints, frame up suggestions and propose more detailed solutions and options for the future.



R47: That a task force on regional activities and responsibilities of ICOM should be established through the Advisory Committee, and composed through representation drawn from the Executive Council (selectively), the Regional Organizations, National and International Committees, and Affiliated Organizations of ICOM, incorporating persons with appropriate expertise in ICOM's regional activities, needs and potential. The task force's brief should refer to the comments offered in this whole section of the RTF Report, and it should gather further data and bring forward proposals to the Advisory Committee and Executive Council that will help shape ICOM's future priorities in terms of regional programs and activities.

Comment (1): In the process of further review that should take place, there needs to be a rationalisation and "re-mapping" of ICOM's structures, resources, programs, services-delivery and administrative capacities regionally. A more rational and balanced map for future development needs to be achieved than that which has arisen through a sequence of haphazard circumstances. This should be connected ultimately to broad organisational objectives for change and other kinds of analysis recommended in the Task Force Report.

Comment (2): The current statutory situation as to voting rights creates (unintentionally) some peculiar distortions in terms of roles and responsibilities, presenting difficulties for balanced governance and development of ICOM. A proposal to grant voting rights to Regional Organizations is already formally before the Advisory Committee and Executive Council. The Task Force did not form a Recommendation on this matter. ICOM-RTF considers instead that the wider implications of appropriate resources and responsibilities for ALL parts of ICOM need comprehensive attention, rather than simply addressing Regional Organization voting rights as a matter of statutory adjustment of the present status quo. Clearly regional initiatives and the Regional Organizations have an important potential in the future of ICOM. It requires further input from professionals directly concerned with regionalised programs of ICOM to help determine how this future should be shaped.

Comment (3): It is advisable that the recommended task force should also look at Affiliated Organizations and their role in ICOM, to the extent that these interconnect directly with ICOM's regional capacities and initiatives. [See (R48) in this Report.]


Affiliated Organizations, being joined to ICOM, but sitting also outside ICOM's direct administrative authority and direct governance responsibility, were not considered in any great detail to date by the Task Force. However a member of the Task Force was drawn from the Affiliated Organizations (Michael Dauskardt, Vice-President of AEOM/Association of European Open-Air Museums), ensuring that viewpoints from this part of ICOM were directly accessible through ICOM-RTF's composition.

The Affiliated Organizations are covered under Article 18 in the Statutes of ICOM. An Affiliated Organization is defined as an "International Organisation composed of at least two-thirds of [professional museum personnel]...or of museums". [SS18--1] At least one half of the members must be or become members of ICOM within a year of a favourable Executive Council decision to admit a new AO to ICOM [SS18--5]. Most of the content of Article 18 deals with purely technical details of AO association with ICOM.

There is a requirement that every application to the Executive Council for this status should: "set out the reasons why the Organization wishes to affiliate with ICOM" [SS18--2]; however the Statutes indicate no criteria by which such applications should be judged, nor do they state any purpose or role of the Affiliated Organizations as far as ICOM's organisational objectives are concerned.

ICOM needs to review this situation and be much clearer about the mutual advantages in such formal ties. It needs to be able to articulate - both internally and externally - the ways in which such Affiliated Organizations directly assist ICOM's mission and core purposes, and enrich its professional networks and capabilities.

There are at present fourteen Affiliated Organizations of ICOM, and they are of two broadly different types.

Nine AOs are defined by the type of museum or disciplinary specialisation they represent: AEOM (European Open-Air Museums); AIMA (Agricultural Museums); IACM (Customs Museums); IAMAM (Arms & Military History Museums); IAIM (Transport & Communications Museums); ICAM (Architectural Museums); ICMM (Maritime Museums); MINOM (International Movement for a New Museology); and SIBMAS (Libraries & Museums of Performing Arts).

These could just as well be related to the group of International Committees of ICOM, though they are at one remove formally.

Four AOs are more closely related to the Regional Organizations of ICOM, as has been mentioned in section (XI) (pp.60-66) of this Report: AMOI (Museums of the Indian Ocean); MAC (Museums of the Caribbean); PIMA (Pacific Islands Museums); and SADCAMM (Southern African Development Community Association of Museums & Monuments); the remaining AO is also closely related to these, though with a larger geographical distribution and more inter-regional connections: CAM (Commonwealth Association of Museums).

Note: A suggestion to the Task Force from ICOM-Denmark (reported by Chairperson Jens Breinegaard) was that Affiliated Organizations should be encouraged to consider possibilities of integrating their general conferences, or an annual meeting, with ICOM's General Conference, or even participate more closely in the General Conference of ICOM itself.



R48: That up-to-date information and a clearer picture of the potential and roles of Affiliated Organizations in relation to other parts of ICOM need to be achieved. In view of two broad groupings within these Organizations, it is Recommended that they be considered by the proposed task forces concerned (a) with International Committees [see (R45) and attached 'Comment' in the main text], and (b) with Regional Organizations [see (R47) and attached 'Comments' in the main text].

Comment: ICOM should not leave the Affiliated Organizations in limbo, simply because they are not directly under ICOM's organisation and governance. The relationships with different parts and programs of ICOM need to be more thoroughly explored and positively stated. This would also enable clearer evaluation of mutual assumptions and responsibilities. Incorporating the Affiliated Organizations into a clearer picture of ICOM's future, and establishing some precise descriptions of their roles, would be an affirmative improvement while still acknowledging the AOs' fundamental autonomy at the same time.



1. Competing priorities for allocation of ICOM's resources

There are two quite difficult dynamics in tension within ICOM's functioning. The tension has been there historically, but has increased in recent years, causing pressure on the organisation as a whole and its ability to maintain cohesion.

These two dynamics are:
  1. the need for ICOM to maintain a centralised organisation and resources-base in order for ICOM to exist at all, and to enable ICOM to take co-ordinated actions and initiatives, which a strong organisation needs to be able to do;
  2. an inevitable counter-pressure from ICOM's member-constituencies - from the National Committees historically, but more acutely from the International Committees recently - for ICOM to transfer more of its resources directly from the central resources-base to the Committees themselves, to enable the Committees (and Regional Organizations) to carry out programs through the expertise and specialised networks that each Committee embodies.

The Task Force stresses that resolving these tensions constructively requires movement beyond short-term discontent over division of resources currently; solutions must involve a long-term plan and co-ordinated strategy. Many options are possible in relation to resources and how they are allocated. However there are consequences to be considered when any single option is proposed.

2. Questions to be asked about resources allocation
Some crucial questions would be:
What are the priorities for resources allocation - at present? more desirably? What would be the implications of changed resources-allocation for the whole organisation - at present? in the future? If a different pattern of resources allocation were decided upon as desirable for the future of ICOM, what steps would need to be taken to change from the present to a future pattern that might be quite different? What is the quantitative size (financial resources data) or operational extent (organisational & human resources data) of the gaps that exists between present realities and desired, future priorities for ICOM? How should ICOM embark on a staged progression to achieve organisational change responsibly (and bridge the gaps that exist), both organisationally and financially?.

3. Membership subscriptions the basis of ICOM's operational finances
Member-subscription support of ICOM (which contributes 50%-60% of the current operational budget) could not currently be withdrawn or radically reduced (unless substantial funds were forthcoming from alternative sources), without threatening the organisation's very survival. The financial difficulties ICOM experienced in the 1970s (which preceded the more serious, chronic years of deficit in the 1980s through currency fluctuations and progressive reduction of UNESCO subsidies), were partly the result of trying to hold ICOM dues down to minimal levels of annual subscription:

The severe restrictions that many National Committees had traditionally placed on ICOM membership coupled with the lowering of annual dues for the increasing number of associate members [merged with "active members" in 1974] had seriously affected ICOM's finances...Thanks to its new policy on membership dues [in the late 1970s], ICOM could now cover the costs of running the secretariat, the Documentation Centre and even the main projects in its Activities Programme.

ICOM was eventually stabilised at a Secretariat level only through austere measures that combined staff reductions (first in 1974, but progressively in the late 1980s), restraints in expenditure, and raising the level of membership subscriptions to guarantee stability.

Changes CAN occur in this situation, but they must be planned and rationalised, accompanied by initiatives to increase income from new sources.

4. The need for wider understanding of ICOM's finances and budgetary operations
Clearly, helping members and Committee Chairpersons to understand better the state of ICOM's finances is important, as part of the process of responsible dialogue and constructive change. Gradual changes in ICOM's communications in recent years have slowly altered the systematic reporting to the full membership of ICOM's budgets and program allocations - which may have contributed to deteriorating understanding of finances throughout ICOM. However it is a simple matter to ensure that this is restored, so that members are enabled to grasp financial issues more clearly.

The importance of dealing with this situation (promoting full understanding and clear judgement as to ICOM's actual resources) was stressed in ICTOP's SWOT Analysis conducted to assist the Task Force's review in 1999. And as the ICTOP analysis also stressed, unless members can understand how lean ICOM's operations are, their assumptions will stray far from the actual facts:

ICOM is basically still quite weak financially. The accounts show that membership subscriptions barely cover the direct cost of services to members after payment of the national committee percentage, the (very small) subventions to international committees and the cost of publications etc.supplied, and ICOM is very dependent on project-based fund-raising for its programme of activities. The consequent lack of core funding and inadequate staffing lead to a very limited range of member services and poor responsiveness to members' needs (particularly support for international committees).
(Weakness#9:from SWOT Analysis of ICOM at ICTOP's Annual Meeting, London, July 1999)

Some important issues are brought to a head in this commentary from ICTOP. They could be re-stated in the following way:

  1. ICOM currently lacks sufficient financial resources to satisfy increasing member expectations;
  2. membership subscriptions (which many people consider to be high) are collected by the NCs (who retain 10% for their own use) and forwarded to the Secretariat; yet in fact the total of these amounts scarcely covers costs of the Secretariat's membership services world-wide annually;
  3. the subventions made by ICOM to International Committees meet only a fraction of their current administrative costs, causing increasing aggravation within the ICs;
  4. ICOM is currently weakened overall by lack of any substantial level of core funding independent of its programs, and is therefore insufficiently able to assist its International Committees in what is obviously core program activity according to ICOM's mission;
  5. ICOM's funds come basically from (a) membership subscriptions [currently 50%-60% of budget income] and (b) programs [25%-30% income], much of this in the form of project-based funding - but both these sources in fact largely consume the funds they provide, and do not feed the "trunk of the tree" (ICOM's secure existence at an appropriate level of capacity as an international organisation); project-funds, in particular, provide nourishment only for the branches of the tree, not the trunk or roots.

5. The stringency of ICOM's Secretariat operations and accommodation
Two significant features of ICOM's operations are insufficiently understood, and need wider communication: (a) how lean ICOM's Secretariat actually is in its style of operation, cost-consciousness and modest accommodation (more modest than people are used to in most large museums today); (b) how much ICOM's operations actually involve the redistribution of resources internationally, from affluent to less-affluent professionals, in a great variety of national and local situations.

In the Task Force's view, any conjecture about a rich Secretariat and thinly supported Committees should be corrected by actual analysis or a visit to the ICOM headquarters in Paris. ICOM lives very modestly within its headquarters provided in the UNESCO complex (an important financial saving for ICOM, together with telephone and Internet provision). Even more important, comparative analysis shows that ICOM is understaffed, both in terms of number of positions and expertise, to accomplish core tasks according to its ideals of democratic service, ethical behaviour, and promotion of the professional interests of museums, their staff and stakeholders in all parts of the world.

There are still many questions to address about achieving adequate resources for ICOM's current operations and potential.

6. The strains of growth in membership within the ICs
The exceptional growth of ICOM in total volume of membership since the 1970s is encouraging in many respects. However some International Committees have grown several times their former size and greatly increased the scale of their professional meetings, without a corresponding increase in infrastructural support. Moreover the extent of financial commitments undertaken within their organisations has grown hugely in some cases.

It is important on the one hand to stress the positive aspects of these changes. The quality, extent and professionalism with which some International Committees now organise their own meetings, workshops, conferences and publications is outstanding. They have increased ICOM's reputation and strength in offering significant service to museum professionals, and ICOM is enriched in the process.

However the legal and financial issues entailed are substantial, and a sober reflection on these is required in this Report - as mentioned also in section (XIV) LEGAL & STATUTORY ISSUES (pp.76-86).

One of the biggest perceived threats to ICOM arises out of the huge growth in ICOM membership over recent years. Though very welcome in principle, the growth in ICOM's facilities, systems and finances have lagged far behind what is needed to handle such a large membership (which is now e.g. around six times greater than the membership of the world NGO for Libraries - a far larger profession). ...Almost all [International Committees] have memberships beyond the committee's capacity to manage within the available resources, none have any regular staffing, nor can the ICOM Secretariat provide committees with any staff resources at current budget levels.
(Threat#7:from SWOT Analysis of ICOM at ICTOP's Annual Meeting, London, July 1999)

The concerns aroused could be summarised as: legal and financial exposure of ICOM on large-scale meetings of International Committees in ICOM's name, without any system in place to moderate the risks involved. The proposed task force on International Committees' functioning recommended in this Report, under (R45), should also look into comparative data on financial and legal exposure of the ICs as part of its work.

7. The ICOM Fund
The ICOM Fund set up by the Executive Council in June 1991 has been of considerable assistance in helping National Committees that have experienced difficulties in payment of the basic level of dues (even at differential rates) - dues that guarantee that NCs are in good standing and able to participate in ICOM's affairs. The ICOM Fund has assisted a number of NCs in a period when they have been "under financial reorganisation", and helped to bring lapsed Committees back into good standing and an operational condition.

This fund is a valuable instrument yet the membership's level of awareness concerning its purposes is low, and only some 10 National Committees (and a few generous individual members) have contributed to it over time. Not only could the ICOM Fund continue with its present mandate but it could also be targeted more actively as a repository of special funds dedicated to assisting cultural heritage programs in developing countries - see proposals for ICOM to pursue a basic level of membership in all countries recognised by the UN, as discussed in section (V) MEMBERSHIP (pp.21-29) in this Report.

8. Distribution/ redirection of resources: operational versus developmental funds
One of the most ineffective ways to consider resources when they are insufficient to meet many different demands is by simply distributing a little everywhere, enabling no part of the organisation to function really well, take initiatives, or increase capacities.

Funding allocations within ICOM's budgetary life could perhaps be considered broadly under two categories, simply as a way of setting up and evaluating priorities: (a) OPERATIONAL RESOURCES and (b) DEVELOPMENTAL RESOURCES. (This is only one way of considering funding divisions - it is but one of many other useful analyses, and a healthy organisation needs to analyse its operations in many different ways.)

For example, varying options open up if two different kinds of discrimination are applied to resources: (1) a degree of funds/resources necessarily distributed throughout an organisation's parts, to keep the organisation operational overall; and (2) a degree of funds separated out from the basic level of allocation, to be used to increase initiatives or performance capacities in certain areas more than others (for a determined period). However additional options open up when a further category of analysis is introduced: (3) transfer of funds/resources FROM one area TO another, according to agreed priorities for increased capacity or organisational change as a whole.

The Task Force considered that an option-based determination of resources within ICOM has been insufficiently explored in the past, and could now be helpful in bringing about organisational change according to some centrally agreed priorities.

A result could be the allocation of a proportion of ICOM's resources within a triennium towards initiative-based, developmental funding - favouring programs that fitted some progressive changes desired for ICOM as a whole: inter-committee, inter-disciplinary, and inter-regional programs, for example, could be targeted as objectives in support of organisational advancement as a whole, and some additional funds allocated to Committees that proposed programs supporting such developments.

The Task Force did not pursue financial issues exhaustively to date, but recommends that further work needs to be done to achieve greater initiative capacities financially, through ICOM's concentrating on different objectives, at different times. Following such a pattern, corresponding discriminations would need to be made as to funding levels to be allocated towards particular programs, for specific developmental periods, according to proactively driven priorities for increased capabilities of ICOM as an organisation.

9. The ICOM Foundation
The Statutes deal with the ICOM Foundation only in the briefest of formal terms (Article 25 covers it with just two minimal clauses). The role and potential of the Foundation, scarcely touched upon in the Statutes, needs a thorough exploration and re-envisioning by ICOM.

Of great interest, for example, is the fact that the ICOM Foundation is registered in Switzerland, not France. The Foundation therefore has a greater independence to increase resources on behalf of ICOM. It is able to act independently of many of the fiscal constraints of French law covering charitable, non-profit organisations and their entitlement to earn income without incurring taxes to a degree that acts as a disincentive. There is an unexplored potential for the ICOM Foundation to be an increased source of fundraising on behalf of ICOM, of independent financing of some of ICOM's activities - by direct allocation of funds to specific projects or programs (for example, publications, while also drawing income from sale of publications internationally), and other possibilities of drawing funds into the Foundation to assist ICOM's objectives.

The Task Force could not give this subject a great deal of attention in this particular phase of its work. However the ICOM Foundation merits separate, further work. It is an instrument of great potential to ICOM, if it could be assisted to seek special kinds of funds internationally, and to act entrepreneurially (ultimately for non-profit organisational objectives), to benefit ICOM's mission and core purposes.

10. What are the real costs of ICOM? What is the real value of ICOM's resources?
There was considerable discussion on the Internet discussion list, ICOM-L, in the early months of the Task Force's existence, about the costs of subsidising ICOM's activities in many ways. It was first assumed that the Executive Council and other officers of ICOM were subsidised for travel and accommodation costs - until Patrick Boylan made extensive comment correcting this, from his many years of service on the Executive Council (and in other offices).

However clarifying that ICOM does not itself cover costs to assist EC or AC members to serve on its committees or boards, even at the highest level, soon gave way (after some equity-discussions) to another line of argument. Various members on ICOM-L proposed that all the forms of subsidy contributed by others (personally and through organisational support) should be shown in some way in financial accounts of ICOM - as indirect subsidies benefiting the running of the organisation, without knowledge of which, the slender operational budgets of ICOM may be quite misleading.

What was interesting about this latter discussion was that it started to deal with a dimension of ICOM's costs (or indirect subsidies) that are rarely calculated in all the sessions of financial scrutiny of ICOM's affairs. The question of actual and indirect costs, real and hidden financial outlays on behalf of ICOM's operations, was now moving onto a territory of a different kind of analysis of ICOM's "costs" and "resources" than is usually touched on in budgetary appraisal of expenditures versus incomes. This more complex territory of cost-evaluation and resources-appraisal is really very important, and has to be more actively understood and explored in the life of ICOM in future.

What are the real costs of ICOM?
It is true that a great number of kinds and quantities of costs are never brought to anyone's attention in scrutiny of ICOM's affairs, for they are never borne by ICOM itself. They are never quantified or published in audit reports. However just as this question is never fully answered, there is a more interesting twin to this question, which is never posed, or answered - but it is actually a very important question for ICOM to become more thoughtful about: What is the real value of ICOM's resources?

Any scrutiny of ICOM's annual budgets would indicate that it is a very modest organisation for an international body working in the cultural heritage field. Indeed ICOM has had to curtail costs in recent years, experience staff reductions to avoid deficits, and live modestly. It looks quite lean in operational costs, and works within such restricted means that it feels "poor" and thinks of itself often in these terms. These facts are real - up to a point.

And yet if quite different evaluations are placed over ICOM, it can be cast in a very different light. It can be argued to be an exceptionally "rich" organisation in terms of the resources it draws around the practical conduct of the most important programs in its life - the extraordinary range and quality of programs pursued by its most active Committees; the range of activities, workshops and conferences staged on their own initiative (only minimally subsidised by ICOM) in all parts of the world: constantly moving, year by year, to different cities and sites, drawing on different casts of professionals in all manner of disciplines. The expertise and "resources" ICOM is able to accrue on an honorary basis are in fact hugely significant (every General Conference and Assembly proves this - never having to be paid for organisationally by ICOM, the burdens always borne by the country favoured with the "privilege" of hosting an ICOM Conference).

And so it turns out that ICOM has control of some very valuable properties (its name, history, ethical position, cumulative expertise, good will, knowledge networks, logo and identity); and some very valuable capabilities (the professionals it can interconnect and bring together, the things it knows, and knows how to bring about)

Looking at ICOM in terms of its properties and capabilities builds up a very different picture of ICOM's real and potential resources from any picture that could be gained from its financial balance sheets alone.

If ICOM could utilise some of these complex resources more productively (and of course ethically, legally and wisely), it could increase its resources and assist its Committees and programs more energetically. It could become a much stronger organisation.



R49: That a Standing Committee on ICOM Finance and Resources be established, as more appropriate to today's challenges of ICOM's size and managerial complexity - rather than simply relying on a single honorary Treasurer from within the ranks of the Executive Council to carry out all supervision of ICOM's finances, in dialogue with the Secretary-General and on behalf of the Executive Council. Such a new Committee, with a fixed life and renewable mandate triennially, would function in a parallel manner to the Ethics Committee. It would pursue certain objectives on behalf of ICOM's financial, human and technical resources as a whole, rather than within a single fiscal year. It would automatically include the Treasurer, President, and Secretary-General of ICOM, but have a composition that reached for expertise beyond the Executive Council itself, incorporating membership skills through the Advisory Committee, and from within the wider ranks and most appropriate experiences to be found within ICOM as a whole.

Comment(1): In order to distinguish its far-reaching mandate and initiative capacities on behalf of the Executive Council, it would be advisable that this Committee should not be chaired by the ICOM Treasurer (whose primary role would still be monitoring fiscal accountability of ICOM's operations within the Executive Council itself), but by a person with the appropriate skills to look towards ICOM's future in terms of resources development.

Comment (2): One of the important objectives to include in the first instance would be an examination of the role and potential of the ICOM Foundation, as both a body and a mechanism, to assist ICOM financially in increased and more diversified ways than are currently possible.

Comment (3): Another objective would be to engage with and receive reports from the task forces set up to look at the work of the Committees and Regional Organizations within ICOM, to explore ways of increasing funds or resources that may be directed to assist their activities.

Comment (4): A further objective would be to look at ICOM's publications, in partnership with appropriate expertise from other parts of ICOM (Secretariat, EC and AC) to consider how ICOM is harvesting, producing, projecting and promoting perhaps its greatest repository of untapped properties - ICOM's intellectual properties - in service to ICOM's Committees' work and its organisational objectives internationally. ICOM's imprint should, ideally, be a high-recognition publishing logo known all over the world, and itself a valuable "property" to ICOM.

R50: That ICOM explore ways of differentiating some of its funding allocations on a more prioritised basis, to assist new developments and increased capacities within the organisation as a whole, according to its programs, activities and principal objectives (as developed in action plans) within a given triennium.



Several separate, but very important, subjects are taken up in this section, and should be clearly noted at the beginning, so that they are not buried in the text that follows:

    1. Restoration of a "Bureau" (or Executive Committee), comprising the principal ICOM Officers within the Executive Council, to comply with French law.

    Restoration of the title "Director-General", rather than "Secretary-General", to clarify EC legal position arising from the title of the CEO of ICOM - also to comply with French law.

    Consideration of the role and title of an additional elected Officer position, within the EC "Bureau", who would co-ordinate important board matters on behalf of the EC itself.

    2. Legal responsibilities incurred for the International Committees.

    3. The statutory/ constitutional framework of ICOM

1. Restoration of a "Bureau" (or Executive Committee), comprising the principal ICOM Officers within the Executive Council, to comply with French law.

An important proposal came from Patrick Boylan (Chairperson of ICTOP and former ICOM Vice-President) shortly before the end of the Task Force's meeting in April. There was not time for the Task Force to consider this proposal in sufficient detail or to form a clear recommendation about it. However in view of its substantive importance, and circulation subsequently to the Executive Council, the proposal merits being included within this Report, to ensure that it is considered by both the EC and AC in June, in the light of the total framework of Recommendations put forward in this Report.

Patrick Boylan reported first that a 1992 opinion from a commissioned French legal authority (the late M. Jean Chatelain) registered many concerns about the 1989 Statutes of ICOM, in terms of their discrepancies with systems required under the governing 1901 law of France (by which ICOM must operate). Professor Boylan then went on to advise the Task Force in writing as follows:

The French system regards the Officers of an "Association" such as ICOM, i.e. President, Vice-President, Treasurer and (elected) Secretary-General, as what would be called the Charity Trustees of the organisation under a Common Law (Anglo-American) legal system. These officers are legally responsible for ICOM's financial and other resources and assets, under both civil and criminal law. It is also assumed that they will take collective responsibility for supervising ICOM's general administration, staff, resources and finances, sitting as a "Bureau" or Board, and probably meet more frequently than the Executive Council. Again, this was a key part of ICOM's original structure, but one that was abandoned in 1974.

Proposed Solution: A "Bureau" (Board in English) consisting of the Officers of ICOM be re-established as soon as possible, to be responsible under the Executive Council and the General Assembly for supervising ICOM's general administration, staff, resources and finances. [PB]

Comment from Chairperson, Task Force
The issues raised, and the proposed solution, have weight and must be taken seriously. However some questions to consider would be:

1. Is "supervision" the right concept here - when it is almost impossible for any other than European-based EC members to meet more frequently than two (perhaps occasionally three) times per year in Paris? This was proved in the period of transition between Secretaries-General in 1998, when only the Vice-President and Treasurer, based close by in Europe, could make more frequent supervisory visits to Paris to provide back-up in oversight of ICOM's affairs and assist staff. Increasing the duties of "Officers" as described would tend to restrain the possibility of Officers being drawn from around the world, and ICOM needs to be a truly "international" organisation.

2. ICOM is already governed and guided on a voluntary-service basis by its EC and office holders on the AC. Without any financial provision to assist key Officers of ICOM, it is near-impossible to ask more of them by way of resources-subsidy for the work they carry out for ICOM. Some government-supported sources of funding through museums associations or cultural bodies may assist professionals to attend "professional meetings" (which is how many colleagues are actually assisted to participate in ICOM's professional gatherings, especially within Europe); but not to supervise the administrative affairs of ICOM.

3. There are different ways in which the serious call here for greater responsibility by Officers could be understood.

a. The first is direct "supervision" - which both practically as well as financially is near-impossible, and risks overlapping and confusing the EC Officers' responsibilities with those of the permanently employed CEO (which is unwise and to be avoided).

b. Another way of understanding the EC responsibilities is "ensuring that objectives, operations, resources, programs and obligations of the organisation are responsibly managed and carried out" - which is somewhat different, and opens up more options of doing so by the EC Officers.

4. It is possible to put in place new mechanisms of organisational interaction, analysis and review of ICOM's affairs that have not existed in the past - and in fact many parts of this Report have proposed doing so. In addition to proposing measures to enable ICOM to draw on its own expertise and manage its affairs more productively (especially through the AC and its networks), there are additional committees, task forces and mechanisms proposed in this Report that seek to improve both ICOM's governance capabilities and internally monitoring responsibilities at the highest level.

5. For example the proposed Finance and Resources Committee, (R49) in this Report, would in effect be a new standing committee of the EC - in parallel to the Ethics Committee - and have ultimate reporting responsibilities directly to the Executive Council (including both the ICOM Treasurer and President in its membership). Such a Committee is designed to enable a much more comprehensive review and oversight of ICOM's resources (of all kinds) than has ever been possible previously. It would become a crucial instrument to assist the EC and ICOM's principal Officers in ensuring that the responsibility of utilisation and management of resources is more rigorously examined on an ongoing basis (as well as exploring new opportunities of increasing resources).

6. A separate standing committee for legal affairs could have a partner role to this committee. [See Recommendation (R52) below]

7. In these ways, "greater oversight and exercise of responsibility" by the EC, as called for in Patrick Boylan's serious proposal, might be more feasibly carried out than through direct "supervision" (and the closer personal presence that would imply).

It is clearly important that the EC and AC reflect on the issues involved, and give careful consideration to the proposal of restoring the "Bureau" (perhaps better translated in English as "Executive Committee") within the Executive Council (i.e. itself the "executive board" of ICOM). These issues deserve serious consideration during the back-to-back sessions of the EC and AC in June 2000.[BM]

[Chairperson's suggestion:] Although the Task Force was made aware of these issues and the concerns raised by Patrick Boylan, there was no possibility of resolving a formal position on the subject of the "Bureau". However the matter has meanwhile been circulated more widely, and been drawn to the attention of Executive Council members. The issues are substantive and do need to be dealt with - and it would be wise to do this in June. The best way to handle the proposal now would be for it to go forward as a recommended proposal for consideration by the EC and AC, noting that no position was clearly formulated as a recommendation from the Task Force itself (simply for timing reasons), though the RTF noted their serious nature. [BM]

[See Recommendation (R51) below]

2. Legal responsibilities incurred for the International Committees

Further in his formal letter to the Task Force of 3 April 2000, Patrick Boylan raises another serious and important subject:

A matter of special, and very urgent, concern is that the collective responsibility of the Officers or "Bureau", and of ICOM's central bodies and resources more generally, extends to the finances and activities (including any illegalities) of the International Committees. These have no separate legal existence (unlike the Affiliated Organizations), but are instead regarded as an integral part of ICOM's registration as an Association under French law. However, in practical terms ICOM centrally has virtually no control over the International Committees. This was probably not a problem when the International Committees were limited under the Statutes to just 30 members, and hence handled little or no charitable funds..

Nowadays, in contrast, the larger International Committees can be handling very large sums of money for conferences and meetings etc., and are often seeking and receiving grants and other support from governments, foundations and charities. However, ICOM centrally, and the Officers of the Bureau in particular, are legally responsible for both the regular funds of the International Committees and for the proper application of any such grants or charitable donations. The situation is not helped by the failure of at least some International Committees to submit regular audited financial reports to the Secretariat (as required under the Rules and Procedures of ICOM).

No solution offered! ...However, some form of separate legal status and constitution may have to be considered, if - as seems to be the case - the Executive Council and Officers of ICOM are in practice unable to supervise and control the finances of the International Committees (even if this was considered to be desirable).[PB]

[Chairperson's suggestion:] Although the Task Force was made aware of these issues and concerns raised by Patrick Boylan - and their serious nature was agreed - there was not time to explore specific solutions. A recommendation is however put forward below, as a recommended proposal for consideration by the EC and AC in June, within the framework and objectives pursued throughout this Report. It can therefore be more fully discussed in the context of other Recommendations made here, when the key meetings of the EC and AC occur in June (which enable input from Task Force members also). [BM]

[See Recommendation (R52) below]

3. The statutory/ constitutional framework of ICOM
There have been two major periods of constitutional history that produce the ICOM Statutes as they exist today. The first period was1946-1974 - ICOM's "founding period". The second period is 1974-the present. However the energies for far-reaching changes in 1974 had really ignited in 1971.

Following the revolutionary character of the General Assembly in Grenoble in 1971, major reforms were called for, opening ICOM up to more democratic processes of election and participation, casting it in the mould of a membership-based, more professionally participative organisation world-wide, at Copenhagen in 1974. This represented a momentous change from the founding council (actually a confederation) of quite selective, locally appointed national committees (maximum 15 members), which had characterised ICOM since its origins in 1946.

Major changes were passed through the General Assembly in Copenhagen, providing a constitutional character that persists through the period 1974-2001. There were some internal tidying-up changes in 1989 (at The Hague Assembly) and some statutory amendments affecting details of electing the Executive Council, IC voting rights, and the definition of a museum in 1995 (at the Stavanger Assembly). However the present constitutional structures still reflect the framework set out in 1974.

a. The acceleration of world communications
Radical as the changes were in 1974, the ICOM Statutes have become steadily more awkward and out-of-character with evolving changes in the wider world, and do not meet the needs of ICOM today. Two of the most striking changes in the world's affairs that have changed conditions in museum professionals' lives have been (1) the rise of international air travel as a constant dynamic connecting many more people, more frequently, from many different countries and localities; (2) the revolution in global communications that has enabled people to communicate more informally, faster and interactively by electronic means, without always having to come together (or move physically) to convene discussions, share expertise, and pursue professional co-operation.

b. The "slower" world of ICOM's Constitution
Throughout this Report, many recommendations emerging from the Task Force's work have sought to re-gear ICOM to become a more flexible organisation, able to move and respond more rapidly according to priorities, needs - and opportunities - in all parts of the world where its networks extend. Moreover the Task Force has sought to achieve maximum possible change without waiting for statutory change, as all the preceding sections of this Report have sought to analyse and propose. And the following Action Plan in PART C translates this whole enterprise practically, into some purposive steps of immediately achievable progress, now and through the next triennium. However when it comes to fundamental legal and structural issues facing ICOM, it is necessary to return to statutory change.

c. The General Assembly and statutory change
ICOM's "supreme policy-making body", as the General Assembly is described in the Statutes (Article 19), is set up to function on a triennial rhythm. And its first-described function - "to adopt and, as necessary, amend" the Statutes [SS--19 (a)] - restrains ICOM to a pace of impossibly slow change in today's terms.

(In the past it has sometimes taken almost six years to bring about substantive change, because of the formalities of proposing, and then actually achieving, changes that cannot come into effect without statutory amendment, through three-yearly plenary Assemblies of ICOM.)

An early Recommendation in this Report (R5) - under section (IV) ICOM'S CORE DOCUMENTS (pp.18-20) - calls for a co-ordinated effort by ICOM (following the Executive Council and Advisory sessions in June 2000) to attend to comprehensive re-drafting of the Statutes. In the Task Force's judgement, this can be achieved better and faster FOLLOWING discussions by the EC and AC on the RTF's recommended directions of organisational change, rather than prior to such discussions.

d. What is possible now to maximise ICOM's opportunities to accelerate change constitutionally?
As mentioned earlier in this Report (in section (IV)-A-1) (pp.18-20), there are opportunities to make things move faster, even under the current Statutes. Repeating from that section:
"... it is possible under the Statutes:

    • to convene an Extraordinary General Assembly in any year, outside of General Conferences (through provisions under Article 19 [SS 19-5], requiring 2 months' notice);
    • to convene an Advisory Committee Meeting in Extraordinary Session at 2 months' notice [SS 21-11]
    • to convene the Executive Council electronically [SS 22-11];
    • to convene the Executive Council in an Extraordinary Session at 30 days' notice [SS 22-8]"

e. What conditions are necessary for an Extraordinary General Assembly to be convened?
This can be proposed through two different parts of ICOM, by request from:

    • "one third of the National Committees" (the ICs, ROs & AOs were notably not included here in the 1974/1989 thinking of ICOM), or
    • "a majority of members of the Executive Council";
    • "within two months of the date of receipt of such request by the President".

    [SS--19 (5) a-b]

f. And for an Extraordinary Session of the Advisory Committee?
This can be proposed through two different parts of ICOM, by request from:

    • "the Executive Council", or .
    • "one quarter of the members of the Advisory Committee, conveyed in writing to the chairperson, who shall forthwith convene a meeting";


    • "for a date not later than two months after the request is received".


g. And for more urgently required meetings of the Executive Council?
As can be seen further above under (d.), there is provision for the Executive Council to move quite quickly (even convene electronically) when special needs arise (as discussed in more detail under (k.) below).

The conditions envisioned above in the 1974/1989 Statutes for exceptional pressures arising within ICOM, need to be reconsidered as instruments both available now, and never fully utilised. However it is also clear, through the Task Force's general review and recommendations for change in this Report, that ICOM needs to be able to move much faster than the older triennial rhythm enshrined in its constitutional framework.

h. Key tasks for statutory revision
It is time for ICOM to refashion a more up-to-date constitutional basis for its existence: (a) achieving a framework that can still guarantee organisational stability and durable principles of legal restraint (and maintain honourable connections to its forebears and half-century-old history); but (b) achieving a framework that will free up the organisation operationally to face the challenges of the present..

ICOM needs affirmatively to move from a triennial rhythm to an annual momentum of plenary review and decision-making. While the Executive Council is charged with governance in an ongoing manner, it cannot be continually retarded - as at present - by the slower constitutional provision of "the supreme policy-making body of ICOM" meeting in plenary session only once every three years. The worst aspect of the current situation is that any major, constitutive changes conceived by a current Executive Council in office, can really only be put forward to the General Assembly when that same EC is at the end of its term, about to surrender its commission to an incoming EC - unknown, and yet to be elected.

This presents acute obstacles to achieving decisive action, or continuity of mind and purpose in the life the organisation. It is like establishing a government but preventing it from passing any major laws until the life of the parliament is at an end, and about to make way for a new one. ICOM cannot afford to let such a disabling situation continue.

ICOM needs to re-gear its mechanisms around an annual momentum of plenary review and legislative action, through its two principal decision-making instruments (the EC and AC) interconnecting more effectively at least once per year. This suggests that provision for a General Assembly annually is now required, to assist governance, fiscal accountability and policy development, and to enable decision-making to move forward faster and more efficiently.

    Key details concerning the process of amendment to ICOM's Statutes

(1) Amendments proposed by the NCs, ICs, or AOs

An amendment to the Statutes may be proposed at any time by a National Committee, International Committee or Affiliated Organization of ICOM (in writing, addressed to the Secretary-General, who must refer this to the next meeting of the Executive Council for comment); it must move on to the next meeting of the Advisory Committee (with background reasons and EC comments attached); if supported by the AC, the Secretary-General refers the proposal to the next General Assembly; if NOT supported by the AC, such a proposal lapses. [SS 29--(2-4)]

(2) Amendments proposed by the EC or AC

An amendment to the Statutes may also be proposed by the Executive Council or Advisory Committee; EC proposals go to the next AC for advice or comment; any proposals supported by the AC, or directly advanced by the EC, move thence to the next General Assembly. [SS 29--5,6]

(3) Notification process and timing (at least 60 days prior to GA)

Chairpersons of all NCs, ICs and AOs must be notified by the Secretary-General of valid proposed amendments at least sixty days prior to a General Assembly commencing. [SS 29--6]

(4) Amendments require a two-thirds majority of votes at a GA

If passed by a two-thirds majority of votes at a General Assembly, amendments are adopted and effective immediately. [SS 29--7]

j. Therefore what changes might be possible by July 2001 (GA in Barcelona)?
The conditions outlined above indicate what is still legally possible for ICOM to achieve in the way of legislative reform at the General Assembly in Barcelona, July 2001.

      1. The EC has the possibility to consider Task Force Recommendations in general, and for EC-AC consultation to occur on proposed directions of change and possible amendments to ICOM's Statutes to be established in June 2000. .
      2. It would be possible for the EC and AC to collaborate, in back-to-back meetings or in a specially convened joint session, in June 2000: to discuss the Task Force's Recommendations, and to establish an agreed mandate for desired reforms to be advanced, and agreed guidelines for appropriate legislative change to be requested for DRAFTING, in a manner to give effect to mandated directions of change. .
      3. Proposed changes (on the basis of adopted RTF Recommendations) - even a comprehensive revision of the Statutes, with appropriate technical input by a lawyer conversant with French law - would then be achievable, if authorised by the Executive Council, in both June and December 2000 meetings. It would perhaps be advisable to compose a specially constituted small AC "consultative committee", to collaborate and review proposed changes in more detail on behalf of the Advisory Council in the interim period, until the AC meets again in Barcelona to consider proposals a final time before the Assembly.
      4. There would in any case be time for further consultation with all Advisory Committee Chairpersons (by mail or electronically, in the period January-March 2001). .
      5. Finalised proposed changes, and amendments to ICOM's Statutes would need to be notified to all Chairpersons by the end of April 2001 - in time for final AC and EC consideration in Barcelona, just prior to the General Assembly some days later in July 2001.

    K. The ultimate responsibilities (and reserve powers) of the Executive Council
    There is a balance of powers and responsibilities of the different parts of ICOM set out in ICOM's Statutes. As with all sound constitutions, detailed provisions were included in their drafting to ensure an interconnection of parts, in an overall design of interacting mutual responsibilities; and there are internal checks and balances to ensure that no part should be permitted to gain unreasonable control or threaten the organisation's life

However it is perhaps insufficiently understood that although the General Assembly is the "supreme policy-making body" of ICOM under the Statutes, supreme executive authority rests clearly with the Executive Council itself for a fixed term, and it is provided with considerable powers for action in times of crisis or emergency. In other words, the Executive Council is provided with a level of decisive authority supervening all others within its triennial mandate - with reserve powers to call upon in unusual circumstances, ones that rarely need to be raised or exercised. The ultimate "supremacy" of the General Assembly itself returns only with the exercise of its authorising power over time, from one Assembly (triennially) to the next.

Under ICOM's Statutes, it is the Executive Council that is granted the greatest, and most unencumbered authority, to take decisive executive action in times of need. One of the functions clearly specified for the EC is to:

make such decisions and take such actions (including decisions and actions that, under these Statutes, are the prerogative of the General Assembly or the Advisory Committee) in cases of emergency between sessions of the General Assembly or the Advisory Committee as it deems necessary in the interests of ICOM .

The organisational change process that ICOM is currently embarked upon has been very authoritatively mandated - indeed requested - by the General Assembly itself (in Melbourne, at the Assembly in October 1998). It would therefore seem clear that although the current triennial period could not be described as an "emergency" in the normal sense of that term, it is nevertheless a time of clearly defined, increased need "in the interests of ICOM", for which the Statutes make good allowance.

In such circumstances the Executive Council is well provided with constitutional authority to act decisively over the forthcoming year (2000-2001). It can rightfully authorise some accelerating and specifically directed procedures to ensure that ICOM's reform needs and "interests" are attended to sooner rather than later.

It would therefore be desirable for the EC to resolve its views on reform in June, and authorise whatever possibilities exist to accomplish comprehensive, enabling changes for ICOM in Barcelona in 2001, rather than wait until Seoul in 2004.

It would produce an even greater convergence of organisational purpose for ICOM if the Executive Council's views on these matters were shared by the Advisory Committee in the June sessions; and for the two entities to be able to act in collaboration to achieve maximum beneficial results in the cause of organisational reform, between June 2000 and July 2001.

Comprehensive change would then be achievable, opening up much more flexible and re-energised potentialities for ICOM straight away, when the new Executive Council comes into office for the triennium 2001-2004.



R51: [Noting that the Task Force did not formally resolve a position on this issue] That consideration be given to the following measures affecting the Executive Council and Secretary-General's position, to resolve discrepancies with French law governing associations: (a) restoration of a "Bureau" of the Executive Council, comprising the Officer positions within the Council; (b) restoration of the title "Director- General", rather than "Secretary-General", to clarify EC legal position arising from the title of the CEO of ICOM; (c) consideration of the role and possible title of an additional elected Officer position, within the EC "Bureau", who would co-ordinate EC members' attention to important legal, financial and related governance issues on behalf of the EC itself. (Suggestions: "Secretary-General"/ "Executive Council Secretary"/ "Bureau/Executive Committee Secretary" for this new position)

Comment: Concerning the reasons for the proposed change of "Secretary-General" back to the (older, pre-1974 designation) "Director-General", Patrick Boylan, has argued strongly (in his letter to ICOM-RTF of 3 April) that this is also required to overcome constitutional difficulties and discrepancies with the governing French Law of 1901.

"Such a title [Secretary-General] implies that the holder is an elected officer of ICOM's Executive Council: therefore assumed to have full voting rights within e.g. the Executive Council and "Bureau"...and extensive personal autonomy, in practice second only to the President on the Executive Council." "[Proposed Solution: Revert to ICOM's (and the French, more generally) traditional structure and nomenclature - re-title the salaried head of ICOM's Secretariat "Director- General", and reintroduce an elected Secretary-General position [on the EC]." [PB, letter to Task Force on legal issues & ICOM Statutes, 3/4/00]

R52: That a Standing Committee on ICOM Legal Affairs and Properties be established, to ensure attention and oversight of the increasingly complex legal matters arising through both governance responsibilities of ICOM itself and the broader environment of issues affecting museum professionals and the cultural heritage sector today. Such a new Committee, with a fixed life and renewable mandate triennially, would function in a parallel manner to the Ethics Committee, and (proposed) Finance and Resources Committee of ICOM [see (R49)]. The Committee would pursue certain objectives on behalf of ICOM concerning legal and property interests (especially intellectual property interests) as a whole, and pay attention to significant legal issues arising internationally as they affect museums, enabling ICOM both to be better informed on these issues, act wisely itself in legal respects, and in certain cases take a strong public position on significant legal issues affecting museums in their co-operative care of cultural heritage. The Committee would include Executive Council representation but also have a composition that reached for expertise beyond the EC itself, incorporating membership skills through the Advisory Committee, and from within the wider ranks and most appropriate experiences to be found within ICOM as a whole.

Comment(1): Noting that the Task Force did not formally resolve solutions to legal questions related to International Committees and Regional Organizations conducting programs and raising funds under ICOM's aegis, this proposed new Legal Affairs and Properties Committee would attend to both these issues and other issues on behalf of the EC and General Assembly.

Comment (2): Intellectual property matters (touched on in Comment (4) (p.75) under (R49) in section (XIII) FINANCIAL ISSUES (pp.69-75), together with other property matters (such as ICOM's own name, "logo" and identity), will become increasingly important to manage wisely in the forthcoming years of ICOM's life, especially considering issues arising in a more electronically mobile communications world. As well as helping to protect ICOM, the Legal Affairs and Properties Committee would have much of vital current interest to be concerned with, and many issues would direct its attention to the most up-to-date legal challenges facing museums today, enabling ICOM to pursue its own public, "position-taking" potential more effectively on behalf of museums.

R53: That in revising the format and contents of the Statutes of ICOM, as proposed in (R5), attention should be given to achieving the following changes, to improve ICOM's functioning:

  1. a simplified constitutional framework that sets out ICOM's principal mission, values, and reasons for existence, followed by a clear organisational structure that legally capacitates ICOM to accomplish its main purposes;
  2. more flexible and co-ordinated provisions for legislative, governance, policy-developing and decision-making capabilities through the EC and AC instruments of ICOM; these capabilities need to be freed up and more clearly distinguished from - though ultimately tied back into - the constitutional framework that secures ICOM's legal and formal existence;
  3. an operational momentum designed to permit ongoing decision-making regulated by annual plenary review (which would suggest annual General Assemblies as a preferred norm, rather than an emergency provision);
  4. retention of a principal General Assembly occurring triennially, coinciding with the General Conference of ICOM;
  5. the triennial General Assembly should not only elect the new Executive Council and review ICOM's financial performance over the preceding triennium, but also undertake substantial policy review, program review, and organisational review, adopting a whole-of-organisation approach to ICOM's performance, fiscal health, program objectives, and future.

Comment (1): The proposed shift from a triennial to an annual momentum of legislation and key decision-making (through annual General Assemblies) would have a further benefit for the life and vitality of ICOM.

It would enable the major triennial Assembly that coincided with the General Conference to be freed from having so much of its time taken up with legislative change (as the only occasion to do so under the current Statutes). Legislative change could be dealt with more effectively and faster through annual provision.

Comment (2): In consequence, there would be more free time for each triennial Assembly to be a whole-of-ICOM "think-tank on ICOM". Time could be preserved, after necessary attention to routine matters, to ensure plenary discussion of more forward-looking issues concerned with challenges evolving in the life of museums and their partners in the safeguarding of cultural heritage.

Comment (3): There could be a more engaged relationship between themes adopted in the General Conference and themes on the agenda for discussion by the General Assembly at the end of the Conference. There would be more opportunity for these two major forums in ICOM's life to brought into a productive relationship. (And most significantly, it is at the time of the triennial Assembly coinciding with a General Conference that ICOM formally mandates the subsequent General Conference theme - which is to become the focus of in-depth attention in three years' time (to be pursued by the host country in organising the next General Conference).

Comment (4): Such changes in both procedure and relationships could provide some enlivening intersections for ICOM, enabling it to capture energies arising directly from the conjunction of a triennial Conference, General Assembly and the (newly elected) Executive Council meeting for the first time, and to carry these currents directly forward into the dynamics of the ensuing triennium itself.

Comment (5): The adoption of a triennial Programme for ICOM, while inevitably prepared in advance of the Conference and Assembly, should also permit some contingency adjustments in the light of revised priorities or new focal points that may emerge from the stimulus of a General Assembly occurring in direct proximity to a General Conference itself.

Comment (6): Through these measures, the triennial gatherings of ICOM in all its parts, involving both the General Conference and General Assembly back-to-back in a new part of the world - should return to being major watershed occasions in the social experience and intellectual life of ICOM. These should not be dry formalistic occasions, but dynamic gatherings of diverse professional colleagues coming together three times in a decade. They should be more interesting for younger professionals to experience, animating all the energies and formal parts of ICOM, re-articulating the significance and potential of the organisation, in one place at one time.



1. ICOM's Code of Professional Ethics (adopted Buenos Aires,1986)
The decision taken by the 1974 General Assembly, in Copenhagen, to begin work on drafting a code of ethics for ICOM, took some years to mature in final form. However a document was finally drafted through the collective effort of various museum professionals, who looked at a complete range of existing codes operable in various national contexts, in order to arrive at a generic international code and set of professional standards of conduct for ICOM. This work resulted in the Code of Professional Ethics that ICOM adopted unanimously in Buenos Aires in 1986.

2. Current work by the Ethics Committee to review and revise the Code (June 2000)
As stated earlier in this Report, under (R6) dealing with ICOM's Core Documents, "Any re-writing of the substantive content of the Code of Professional Ethics document is a matter for the Ethics Committee, and is already being addressed by that standing committee of the Executive Council, under the Chairmanship of Geoffrey Lewis."

Comprehensive review and revision of the ICOM Code document is on the agenda for a full-day meeting of the Ethics Committee dedicated largely to this task, 2 June 2000. This means that an amended (revised) Code of Professional Ethics should be ready for presentation to the General Assembly in Barcelona, July 2001.

3. Changes in the environment for museums and the work of museum professionals
The Task Force's discussions yielded a few observations under the heading of ICOM membership that have been forwarded to the Ethics Committee, for its consideration in review of the entire Code of Professional Ethics for ICOM.

Summarising these observations here: the Task Force recognises that the environment in which professional activities are pursued has greatly changed in recent years. It is no longer the case that institution-based museum professionals have an exclusive hold on the location, standards-control, or delivery of professional museum services and expertise in today's world.

4. Reaffirmation of ICOM's ethical Code is important at such a time
Many professionals are rightly concerned in the more fluid employment environment of today to renew efforts to protect and maintain ethical standards of museum behaviour. This often includes persons who now work independently or on a contracted basis - who themselves wish to reaffirm their participation in a professional community with appropriate standards and internal rules of conduct, rather than seeming to work for unregulated commercial interests that would not acknowledge ethical or professional restrictions as constraints on what they may do.

5. Concerns about increasing pressures of market-force interests and commercialised "bottom lines" standing behind out-sourced professional services to many museums today
It is recognised by the Task Force that many professionalised services increasingly "bought in" or contracted by museums - for example, security services, guards, exhibition design or display case manufacture - are now subject to increasingly globalised organisation.

The results are sometimes of concern to museums, as to whether the interests of museums are able to be adequately protected against the power of large commercial conglomerates that customise their services and products according to purely commercial interests and standardised solutions, rather than museum-specific needs. (This could be a subject of interest for the new (proposed) Legal Affairs and Properties standing committee of ICOM - see Recommendation (R52).

6. Renewal of ICOM memberships annually - opportunity to request annual renewal of signed undertaking by members to abide by ICOM's professional Code
Vetting of membership occurs annually when membership is renewed, and offers ongoing opportunities for review of ethical principles and professional behaviour, according to the ICOM Code of Professional Ethics.

The National Committee of the Netherlands, in its work on Membership for the Task Force, and the distinctions applying today to the category of "professional" museum personnel, yielded some very useful comments and formulations. These have been forwarded to the Ethics Committee for consideration when it considers the whole professional Code of ICOM in detail at its June 2000 meeting.

Colleagues in the Netherlands have urged that it is important in the current environment to shift the scrutiny-emphasis onto the point of renewal of memberships annually - as the opportunity to keep securing ethical standards and upholding of ICOM's Code - rather than try to maintain a tight "closed-shop" attitude that greatly restricted possibilities of joining ICOM in previous decades, through emphasis on full-time salaried employment within an institution as the guiding standard.

A more up-to-date attitude, it is argued, is to encourage ICOM membership generously (including Affiliated members) rather than seem to be restricting an elite community - and concentrate instead on pursuing active awareness of professional conduct and performance once people have joined the ranks of museum professionals accepted by ICOM.

This attitude would also be in harmony with the understanding of those actively involved in teaching museum ethics: that ethical behaviour is a matter of constant orientation, consideration, and championing of good conduct according to professional standards and principles. It is not a matter of passive observance of formal rules.


Concerning (XV) ETHICAL ISSUES, the Task Force RECOMMENDS:

R54: That the Ethics Committee of ICOM receive and take note of the observations made in section (XV) ETHICAL ISSUES (pp.87-88) of the Task Force's Report - concerning changes in the environment for museum professionals - and that the Committee consider some reflection of these changes in its current work on revision and updating of the ICOM Code of Professional Ethics, to be put before the General Assembly of ICOM in 2001 in Barcelona.



1. Membership, Committees' operations, voting rights, resources (interconnections between these)
The Task Force looked at ICOM in terms of its present structures of membership, from Individual to Institutional members; and in terms of membership of National and International Committees, Regional Organizations and Affiliated Organizations. Detailed discussion of all these categories and entities appears in this Report, and extensive Recommendations are made.

However the Task Force's work has inevitably been framed by the nature of ICOM at present. Even though ICOM-RTF sought to project and work towards an improved future for ICOM, and to mobilise whatever organisational change was possible, the present articulation of ICOM through its constitutional provisions (in the Statutes) has set some limits on what may be proposed in this Report.

However further work needs to be done on future options for ICOM's development that would open up a further examination of the interacting relationships between various entities and dynamics - between Membership categories, Committees' operations, voting rights exercised by each, and resources implied or needed.

Changes to one aspect, inevitably have an impact on other aspects.

2. Voting rights
Where should the power to vote and influence critical issues of ICOM's affairs most strongly lie: in the base lines of the National Committees and International Committees - as in the past history of ICOM? In part in the Affiliated Organizations (which do have voting rights at present)? Or - as a shift in ICOM's possible future growth and development - in the Regional Organizations (which currently have no voting rights at all at the General Assembly of ICOM)?

It is insufficient simply to look constitutionally - and perhaps just ADD voting rights for Regional Organizations as a means to solve a problem of equity at General Assemblies. This is only one detail of possible change. The issues are far more complicated when balanced regional distribution of programs/activities and initiative-capacities and resources are considered, against the background consideration of organisational capacities of ICOM to support substantial growth and shift of emphasis in its international functioning in (perhaps) the next ten years.

3. Relationships evolving between Committees
What is the ideal picture of a changed relationship between the activities of National Committees, International Committees, and Regional Organizations in future - in terms of power of decision-making, organisational support, the allocation of resources, incorporation of appropriate professional expertise, and administration and delivery of programs? How does each of these considerations impact on another?

These questions deserve further work on behalf of ICOM (drawing in appropriate expertise on various issues). It is hoped that the various mechanisms suggested in the Recommendations throughout this Report will assist changed evaluation of some of the matters raised above. There are questions here also for further work by an ICOM task force.

4. More varied working styles and tools for ICOM
ICOM would be improved in its operations by implementing various working styles and differing working tools appropriate to different tasks. The organizational aim should be improved flexibility and efficiency.

For example:

a. Task forces should: take up issues and define problems clearly, gather relevant data, explore options, consider implications, make recommendations back to key ICOM bodies, and produce improved outcomes, in the shortest possible time.

Task forces might well operate within some component part of ICOM (like the Executive Council, Advisory Committee, or a single Committee of ICOM); however on many issues that have implications beyond one functional area, they would be better composed on cross-functional lines, to ensure an interconnection of expertise and viewpoints. (Cross-disciplinary viewpoints tend to produce more varied options; single-discipline specialists tend to build silos.)

b. Working groups should: be similarly focused on issues to some degree, but may take up a larger number of questions surrounding key issues, pursuing them in a more exploratory manner, over perhaps longer periods of time. Working parties may therefore operate like learning forums to some degree (even sharing some features with discussion forums) - though they should also (like task forces) return eventually to coming up with some tangible results of their "work", and be concerned to deliver some outcomes /findings back to other parts of ICOM.

c. Discussion forums should: open up and pursue issues expansively, while they have some life, meaning and currency, without credentials for membership or constraining disciplinary boundaries. They could usefully report their important findings to others (through rapporteurs or mediators), and cease when they no longer have a purpose. Discussion forums might also, however, confine themselves to more specialised territories of disciplinary interest (which is still perfectly valid) - ICOM should value differing intellectual positions across the whole spectrum of disciplinary interests, and be keen only to see good work occurring and some good-quality results emerging.

d. Electronic discussion forums offer a whole new potential for ICOM. ICOM members could take the lead here at last, in ways that were impossible through the older pyramidal hierarchies of organisation. Members (including both the oldest and youngest of the profession) could establish truly inter-disciplinary discussions and frameworks - and do some of ICOM's most imaginative, direction-setting thinking, more flexibly and dynamically - through electronic discussion forums on a globally networked basis. A vivid re-potentialisation of the organisation could be opened up in new areas of museology and theory, as well as quite practical action, as never imaginable in ICOM's early years.

e. Committees have a formal and continuing life, and operate within the more constitutionally defined structures of ICOM. They also set up their activities across territories, professional interests, and disciplinary fields that have an ongoing identity and vitality in the life of museums and cultural heritage institutions. They should continue, be deeply appreciated for their work, and supported in whatever ways possible - for their own and ICOM's enrichment. However their effectiveness and vitality should also be reviewed from time to time.

f. Standing committees (such as the Ethics Committee, which is in effect a standing committee of the Executive Council) should have an ongoing life, dealing with matters of fundamental or cross-functional importance to the whole of ICOM. Their mandate should be defined in time-periods, reviewed and re-established regularly, and their membership recomposed regularly also, to prevent loss of focus or ossification. A proposed Finance and Resources Committee (p.74), in parallel to the Ethics Committee, is recommended in this Report [see (XIII) FINANCIAL ISSUES (pp.69-75)] as a new standing committee of the Executive Council, to overview, evaluate, and seek to increase ICOM's resources in the longer term. Another new partner standing committee would be the Legal Affairs and Properties Committee recommended (p.84) under (XIV) LEGAL & STATUTORY ISSUES (pp.76-86). These standing committees also have cross-functional potential.



R55: That meetings of both the Executive Council and Advisory Committee in June 2000 review the Task Force's work to date in general, and establish some clear indications as to ICOM's general state of mind on readiness to proceed expeditiously with changes outlined in this Report - both in broad framework for organisational reform, and in specific Recommendations that have been made (and which would therefore guide further action by the Task Force) - or, alternatively, the Task Force may be requested to slow down the pace of work envisaged and proposed in this Report.

Comment: Issues covered under (XIV) LEGAL & STATUTORY ISSUES: [3] (c)-(j) (pp.80-83), concerning statutory change, indicate powers available and timing possible. This material - especially (j) (p.82-3)- sets out clearly the latitude available to ICOM under the Statutes to proceed with change at a resolute pace.

R56: That the EC and AC indicate reactions to the specific Recommendations formally made and consolidated in this Report [see the summary of all Recommendations, for easy reference in one place (pp.4-11)]. The Recommendations could be taken further (or alternatively modified or abandoned, as preferred) in the twelve months ahead, during the consolidating, consultative, and further developmental work the Task Force needs to carry forward, to bring some finally resolved results before the General Assembly in Barcelona. The time-table for this is indicated in the Report: (XIV) [3]:(j) (p.81-2).

R57: That in view of what has been achieved and presented here, the general mandate of the Task Force (ICOM-RTF) be reviewed (and, if desired, reaffirmed) to carry the work forward to the General Assembly in Barcelona 2001. If alternative results are desired, some guidelines need to be established.

[End of Recommendations]


Comprehensive organisational change of ICOM - including revision of both the Code of Professional Ethics and even the Statutes - is possible by July 2000, at the General Assembly in Barcelona. The extensive work that has gone into compiling this Report - and the design of detailed information and Recommendations it has brought together in autonomous sections - sets out both an integrated framework and detailed analysis to show how organisational change is possible within the present triennium. This Report, arising from the work of the Reform Task Force, seeks to provide some crucial institutional "tools" (in one place) to enable integrated organisational change for ICOM, and to open for it a more exciting future. The Task Force commends this "tool box" to all of ICOM to utilise.

[End of Parts & B; Part C: ICOM Action Plan, 200-2004 follows]

"One final remark: electronic communications cannot replace human interaction - or to put it another way: we still need to party together once in a while so that we can develop a degree of comfort in sharing ideas and giving of ourselves to our colleagues."

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Updated: 15 June 2005