Debate Breaks Out at the International Council of Museums Over Politics in the Galleries

  • 2019-08-20
  • Artnet News

Should museums’ core mission be preserving the world’s cultural heritage, or should they use their collections to promote human dignity, social justice, global equality, and planetary well-being? That is the question facing the international museum community as it wrestles with bringing its definition of what a museum should be into the 21st century.

Next month, thousands of members of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), which represents 20,000 institutions worldwide, are due to meet in Japan to formally ratify a new definition of what makes a museum a museum.

The new wording stresses the importance of championing human justice, equality, and the wellbeing of the planet. It also suggests that museums acknowledge and address the conflicts and challenges of the present, while “[guaranteeing] equal rights and equal access to heritage for all people.”