In accordance with Article Looks like an ‘ideological angel’: Museums vote on definition (17/8) Brilliant minds from 138 countries have been fighting over what is the correct definition of “museum” for three years now. ICOM did not come to an agreement in 2019, because the then proposed ‘definition’ is too much like an ‘ideological’ statement. A number of values have been added to the actual description.
But is the new proposal much better now? The definition of the concept must list all the necessary factual properties, moreover, sufficient to exclude confusion with another concept. For example, a museum is appropriately defined as a publicly accessible space where items are constantly displayed, often in the field of art, science, and/or technology.
But the new proposal is by no means purely descriptive. Another list of values has been added: the museum must be inclusive, promote diversity and sustainability, operate ethically and professionally, collaborate with communities, etc.
So again there is no definition, but still an “ideological” statement. Moreover, the ideology is clearly inspired by the same fashionable “values” that were contested in 2019. One might wonder how a museum of cars or a museum of natural history should be so diverse and inclusive. Will they stop being museums as soon as – God forbid – they no longer meet the highest values of all values?
But yes, if the definition of the ICOM Museum is used as the basis for the subsidy plans, you have to align with such heights for the money.
A version of this article also appeared in the August 22, 2022 newspaper
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