Let’s rewrite the definition of Museums!

Let’s rewrite the definition of Museums!

July 7, 2016 by Claire Solery
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It’s ICOM week! Since 3 July and until 9 July, the International Council of Museums is holding its annual conference in Milan and is themed ‘Museums and Cultural landscapes’.

Since its inception in 1946, ICOM has been the representative institution for museums all over the world under UNESCO. Its mission is therefore to promote and protect our global heritage. It is only fitting that, as the institutions acting as the reference community for a staggering number of museums its definition of what exactly a museum is serves as a reference even nowadays.

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Indeed, since it was introduced it was reworked several times to better fit the changing times in which museums exist. ICOM’s current vision of museums reads as such:

'A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.'

It just so happens that last week We Are Museums were invited to speak at Viva Technology, Paris new go-to event for startups and innovation that drew 45 000 visitors in 3 days and that had over 400 talks (only 5 on culture-related matters!)

Our premise was that museums are the new incubators, meaning that they do not evolve 'in accordance with the realities of the global museums community' as ICOM proposes, but are increasingly actors of their own change and move organically with a much wider ecosystem than just museums that would be: innovators, geeks, designers, creative industries, startups and so on.

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Paris, in this respect is somehow ideally positioned as a historical cultural landmark and a city that has widely invested in structures dedicated to innovation in the past years. So, we wanted to make the most of our participation to Viva Tech as museums representatives for a day and offer our own definition, or rather, our manifesto regarding museums. This is what we came up after quoting great examples of how museums and the world collide in wonderful ways:

'A museum is an open to all, ever changing place, in the service of humanity, where curators act as keepers and transmitters of knowledge, culture and values that are shared with co-curators in innovative and inspiring ways, giving them insight into their past and present and informing their future self-development'

One can dream, right?

What about YOUR own way of seeing museums? Share it with us!