The International Council of Museums (ICOM), created in 1946, is the world organisation of museums and museum professionals.
ICOM is committed to promoting and protecting natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible. With 32 969 members in 135 countries, the ICOM network is made up of museum professionals from a wide range of museum- and heritage-related disciplines.
ICOM promotes standards of excellence in the museum field, in particular through its ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, a standard-setting tool for museums, which includes basic principles for museum governance, the acquisition and disposal of collections, and rules for professional conduct.
In order to carry out its activities, ICOM partners with entities such as the World Intellectual Property Organization, INTERPOL, the World Customs Organisation, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), and maintains its long-standing collaboration with UNESCO. ICOM’s activities include fighting illicit traffic in cultural goods and promoting risk management and emergency preparedness to protect world cultural heritage in the event of natural or man-made disasters.
The UNESCO-ICOM Museum Information Centre, created in 1946, gathers the most comprehensive collection of ICOM publications including ICOM News, ICOM Red Lists, publications by ICOM’s committees, and conference proceedings.
ICOM’s commitment to culture and knowledge promotion is reinforced by its 31 International Committees, which are dedicated to a wide range of museum specialities and conduct advanced research in their respective fields for the benefit of the museum community. The organisation’s International and National Committees, Regional Alliances and Affiliated Organisations hold conferences and symposiums worldwide that revolve around pre-defined themes with a view to fostering exchange among museum professionals of all nationalities. In addition, ICOM organises International Museum Day each year, a worldwide event held around 18 May, to increase public awareness of the role of museums in developing society.
The Paris-based General Secretariat coordinates the activities of both National and International Committees and helps carry out ICOM’s programmes. It also houses the UNESCO-ICOM Information Centre where a collection is available for consultation by all ICOM members that serves as an important source of information related to ICOM’s activities as well as the cultural heritage activities of UNESCO. Other Secretariat Activities include capacity building, community involvement, cultural tourism, combating illicit traffic in cultural property, working with intangible heritage, and risk management.
The General Assembly is a decision-making organ that meets every year. It sets the functioning rules and adopts ICOM’s Strategic Plan every three years at the General Conference. It elects the members of the Executive Council and provides it with guidelines through a set of resolutions. It takes place simultaneously with the annual meeting of the Advisory Committee and is the privileged gathering place of ICOM members.
The Executive Council is ICOM’s board. Its mission is to enforce the decisions and recommendations of the General Assembly and to coordinate the activities of ICOM’s National and International Committees and Regional Alliances. The Executive Council also ensures that ICOM’s Strategic Plan is respected. It meets at least twice a year and is made up of 16 members elected for three year.
The Advisory Committee is ICOM’s counselling and recommendation body. It is made up of the Presidents of the National and International Committees and Affiliated Organisations, who meet once a year. Its Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson are elected for 3 years among its members. Since they are communicated to the Executive Council, the Advisory Committee’s recommendations help to define the actions of ICOM.
See more on governance on the ICOM website, including minutes of meetings (member access only).