International Public History | VOL. 5
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The International Council of Museums and the Controversy about a New Museum Definition – A Conversation with Lauran Bonilla-Merchav, Bruno Brulon Soares, Lonnie G. Bunch III, Bernice Murphy, and Michèle Rivet

Publication Date Jun 1, 2022

Abstract

Abstract In 2019, an Extraordinary General Assembly International Council of Museums (ICOM) met in Kyoto, Japan to vote on a new museum definition. Among other things, the controversial proposal described museums as “democratising, inclusive and polyphonic spaces for critical dialogue about the pasts and the futures” that should also aim “to contribute to human dignity and social justice, global equality and planetary wellbeing.” The motion to postpone the vote, which was supported by a large majority in Kyoto, caused a crisis in the most important international organization for museums and museum professionals. In the years since, ICOM Define led an elaborate consultation process resulting in a newly revised museum definition to be voted on at ICOM’s Extraordinary General Assembly in Prague in August 2022. In this conversation, several prominent members of ICOM who have been deeply involved in the debates about a new museum definition take a critical look at the consultation process before Kyoto, the reasons for postponing the vote, the work of ICOM Define, and also share their expectations for Prague.

Concepts

International Council Of Museums Museum Definition Extraordinary General Assembly Planetary Wellbeing Museum Professionals Global Equality Consultation Process Social Justice Spaces For Dialogue Organization For Professionals

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