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A Tool Box for Renovating ICOM :

Report from ICOM-RTF for Review and Reform of ICOM

April 2000



The global environment in which an organisation such as ICOM is situated must of necessity have an impact on the issues which it has an opportunity to investigate and implement.

Because of ICOM's commitment to its world-wide mandate, careful attention must be paid to conditions which will enable, or conversely inhibit, its ability to reach its own goals. Simply identifying such conditions is complex, nonetheless ICOM has borne each of the following points in mind in developing its Plan.

The general planning assumptions for ICOM's Plan 2000 - 2004 are:

1. ICOM's membership will continue to experience a natural growth rate (approximately 6.7% per year, which has resulted in a total increase of over 50 % in the past 8 years).

2. The substantial diversity of its members (in terms of scale of institution and nature of collections; geographic location; cultural tradition; and availability of resources) will continue to be a distinguishing feature of ICOM.

3. The global reality of increasingly restricted government funding for culture will mean that, in some countries, alternative sources of funding will need to be identified. It is expected that such shifts may also have an impact on ICOM itself.

4. Interest in museums and cultural heritage will continue to expand world-wide, although competition for new visitors will also increase. Partnerships throughout the cultural heritage sector will strengthen museums, and therefore ICOM.

5. ICOM is recognized as an official partner of UNESCO. The three-year Framework Program will continue; service contracts which stipulate the services and/or programs which UNESCO is supporting will continue although the amounts awarded may vary according to UNESCO's resources and its priorities.

6. The importance and reach of electronic communications will have a substantial impact on ICOM and its ways of working.

7. ICOM will seek to expand and consolidate its partnerships with sister organisations such as ICOMOS, ICA, and IFLA, both in relation to the Blue Shield initiative and to other joint actions.

8. The International and National Committees of ICOM, together with the Regional and Affiliated Organisations are the primary instruments of ICOM's work. Expectations of these bodies are growing and ways must be found to facilitate and ensure their effectiveness, within the context of their mandates.

9. The individual and institutional needs and interests of ICOM members will be, to some degree, affected by the activities of national museum associations and related professional associations in some countries.

10. ICOM's own resources (both human and financial) will be stable over the period and may increase to a small degree.


ICOM has established three principal objectives that it will accomplish during the period 2001 - 2004. They are:

Objective 1: ICOM is recognised as the international leader in the museum field, and a respected voice on issues affecting protection of the world's cultural heritage.

Objective 2: ICOM advances the sharing of professional knowledge and museum practice internationally through mutual assistance, and actively encourages new models of collaboration.

Objective 3: ICOM achieves a dynamic, supple and consistent framework for communications and advocacy.

For each objective, a series of desired results for the period 2000 - 2004 has been identified. These results will be tracked and measured collectively.

The final section of each of the three charts describes the specific Actions, identifies the Responsibility for implementation, and provides a Time Frame in which to accomplish the actions.

3.1 Objective 1: ICOM is recognised as the international leader in the museum field, and a respected voice on issues affecting protection of the world's cultural heritage.

The anticipated results in accomplishing this objective during the period 2000-2004 are:

  1. ICOM regularly identifies key issues affecting the museum sector and pursues the means to publicly advocate and communicate ICOM's values, policies, and knowledge concerning these issues.
  2. ICOM's significant partners and stakeholders consult ICOM regularly regarding world-wide museum and cultural heritage issues, and its views are represented in important forums of decision-making internationally.
  3. ICOM is recognized by the print and electronic media as the global authority on museum and cultural heritage issues.
  4. ICOM's governance and operational structures are responsive, flexible and efficient.
  5. ICOM effectively enables its National Committees (in partnership with national museums associations) to brief national governments on issues that are international (e.g. the fight against illicit traffic, UNIDROIT). ICOM assists such advocacy through its issues-identification, research and databases.

Action Plan for Strategic Objective 1



Time Frame

1. Organise a forum of the National and International Committees at the time of each Advisory to develop a list of key issues to be addressed by museums over the new triennium.

Chair of the Advisory Committee, Chairs of National/International Committees, Executive Council to review and approve; SG to manage based on timelines

June 2000 - annually

2. Draft and implement core policies on:

  • Communications
  • Publications
  • Electronic Communications and the Internet
  • Membership

Secretariat, Executive Council, applicable International Committees

June 2000 - December 2000

3. Implement a further process through which the International and National Committees, Regional Organisations and Affiliated Organisations are more effectively engaged in defining key issues and provide appropriate expertise to ensure ongoing participation throughout all parts of ICOM.

Chair of the Advisory Committee, Chairs of National/International Committees Executive Council

June 2000 - December 2000

4. Ensure that the expertise required for ICOM to take a leadership position for museums and cultural heritage, and to implement ICOM's strategic directions, is available at all levels of the organisation; for example, through an enlarged Executive Council, and through more active use of the Advisory Committee and ICOM's professional and associate networks year-round.

Executive Council, Chair, Advisory Committee; Secretary-General

December 2000 - July 2001 - ongoing

5. Develop, secure approval and implement a partnership Action Plan with the emphasis on joint initiatives and shared responsibilities

Secretary-General, Executive Council, UNESCO, ICOMOS, ICCROM, IFLA, comparable agencies

December 2000 - July 2001

6. Establish a research component within ICOM, with the mandate to define and develop issue-papers on key topics identified through various sourcing processes.

Executive Council, Secretary-General (drawing on Advisory Committee's expert networks)

September 2001 - ongoing

7. Develop a database on issues that may have an impact on the museums sector world-wide; ensure that it is available electronically.


November 2001 - December 2003

9. Identify specific actions related to ICOM's initial leadership in issues relating to Illicit Traffic; develop a further Action Plan which retains and expands on ICOM's initiative in establishing policy directions and raising public awareness.

Executive Council, Secretariat, ICOM's partners

March 2001 - ongoing

10. Act on the National Committees' expanded role and responsibilities as a resource and database for ICOM.

National Committees, Secretariat

Immediate - ongoing

11. Key ICOM individuals are present and visible at important museum and cultural sector meetings world-wide.

President, Chair of the Advisory Committee, Executive Council, Secretary-General, & selected Advisory members


3.2 Objective 2: ICOM advances the sharing of professional knowledge and museum practice internationally through mutual assistance, and actively encourages new models of collaboration.

The anticipated results in accomplishing this objective during the period 2000-2004 are:

  1. ICOM develops and delivers programs in collaboration with its International and National Committees, Regional and Affiliated Organisations that combine the professional and financial resources of the organisation innovatively. ICOM gives special emphasis to inter-committee and interdisciplinary actions".
  2. ICOM works collaboratively with International Committees on key issues in their specialist areas of professional knowledge and practice.
  3. ICOM facilitates the intra-/inter-regional sharing of expertise throughout its programs. It gives special emphasis to projects that combine resources innovatively through inter-committee, interdisciplinary and cross-cultural frameworks of collaboration.
  4. ICOM provides opportunities for members to contribute to the museum sector world-wide, as well as to receive personal/professional benefits.
  5. ICOM collaborates on initiatives with appropriate peer bodies for the protection of cultural heritage.


Action Plan for Strategic Objective 2



Time Frame

1. Plan and present a forum/consultation on options for program exchanges, including identification of specific needs and opportunities for collaboration.

Chair of the Advisory Committee, International & National Committees, Affiliated and Regional Organisations, Secretariat

June 2000/ July 2001

2. Complete the review and revision of the ICOM Code of Ethics.

Ethics Committee, Executive Council

June 2000/

July 2001

3. Introduce the category of Student Member, based on established criteria, and ensure that young professionals are targeted for participation in ICOM early in their careers.

ICOM Reform Task Force (RTF); Advisory Committee, Executive Council

June 2000 - July 2001

4. Clarify the opportunities present in the existing category of Supporting Member that may have potential financial benefits for ICOM National Committees' work.

ICOM Reform Task Force (RTF); Advisory Committee, Executive Council

June 2000 - July 2001

5. Identify and document case studies on programs/projects favouring professional development and advanced standards - for example, as achieved through AFRICOM and ICOM Arab; make these available to ICOM members through the Documentation Centre, publications, and ICOM's Web site.

ICOM Secretariat, AFRICOM, Committees

September 2001 - September 2004

6. Develop a framework for an up-to-date, centrally maintained database on museum resources, which is also available for ready access electronically.

Secretariat, Working Group

September 2001 - September 2004

7. Facilitate the development of databases distributed within the National Committees, which are tied into ICOM's globally interconnecting framework and which identify individual museums and/or museum workers interested and available for sharing their expertise internationally through ICOM. (Appropriate measures for integrity control would be a crucial part of such a development.)


Secretariat, Advisory Committee, National Committees September 2004 - ongoing


3.3 Objective 3: ICOM achieves a dynamic, supple and consistent framework for communications and advocacy.

The anticipated results in accomplishing this objective during the period 2000-2004 are:

1. ICOM implements an effective and proactive Communications Policy.

2. ICOM ensures broad, effective, and up-to-date use of electronic communications.

3. ICOM, through its own and collaborative efforts, expands the profile of cultural heritage initiatives being taken internationally.

4. ICOM facilitates electronic networks for discussion and the exchange of information among members.

5. ICOM promotes active use of ICOM-L and other specialized Web discussion groups, for specific tasks to be accomplished or specific themes/ subjects to be explored, utilising more informal styles of communication and fast feedback possible today. From ICOM's vantage-point, such discussion groups should be purpose-oriented, and include people who are committed to support them. From time-to-time, they will report back to other parts of ICOM on significant outcomes or new developments.

Action Plan for Strategic Objective 3



Time Frame

1. Drawing on the Communications Policy, develop a Communications Plan that emphasises proactive, issues-oriented media campaigns, on subjects that are central to ICOM and museums world-wide (e.g. cultural heritage; illicit traffic; museums' role in societal change; museums as economic generators; museums and sustainable development; museums and cultural tourism).

Communications (Secretariat), Executive Council (Working Group)

December 2000 - 2002

2. Identify and activate communications and pursue media partners to enable sharing of resources.

Executive Council (Working Group), Secretariat

December 2000 - 2002 ongoing

3. Identify the information technology and expertise needed to support a more active Communications Policy, and ensure that ICOM has appropriate skills and access to this, as required.

IT Consultant, Secretary-General

June 2000

4. Promote the ICOM Code of Ethics as the international standard for museums' ethical orientation and conduct.

Communications (in concert with ICOM Ethics Committee)


July 2001 - ongoing

5. Undertake a broadly-based needs assessment of ICOM members' electronic capacities and potential. Executive Council (Working Group), Secretariat Fall 2001
6. Refine ICOM's Internet Policy and develop a Plan based on the needs assessment. Secretariat, IT Consultant Fall 2001

7. Facilitate the acquisition of electronic networks, access and skills for ICOM members.


2002 - ongoing

8. Establish and facilitate Web-based discussion groups on ICOM's central topics.

Secretariat, IT Working Group

<< Part A



Updated: 15 June 2005