The International Council of Museums Continues to Question What Defines a Museum

The International Council of Museums is on an international crusade to answer the question “what is a museum?” in an effort to update their definition—one that hasn’t changed much since the ’70s. The Paris-based non-profit works on behalf of museums everywhere and, according to Rick West (president of the Autry National Center of the American West), the question that acts as a blockade to a new definition lies in whether museums are “houses of collections and beautiful stops on the tourist trail” or institutions that engage with larger swaths of society. The current definition (reinforced by UNESCO) is that museums are “non-profit institutions ‘in the service of society.’ They exhibit ‘the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment,'” according to The New York Times. Read more about the continued dialogue between roughly 900 members (of some 40,000 total) from the International Council of Museums at The New York Times.

Image courtesy of the GPA Photo Archive