New Museum definitions

Now that I have ranted in my previous post on the ICOM definitions of museums, I thought it would be good to have both the new and old for comparison.  So here they are attached together cut from our assigned discussion.

I still don’t know why PDF and Word documents don’t appear directly for viewing in these posts but maybe Angela can tell me why if the image is only for graphics like jpeg, tiff, png, etc..

I do have an issue with the current trend of the buzz word for transparency  as lip service dejour for bureaucrats to make it look like you can see everything through a process.  When something like this appears in government policy documents it offers a warm feel good assurance that there is nothing wrong with the way they are doing things that you see.  The only way you discover that purported policy statement is when it goes to court when things do wrong or are arbitrary. I haven’t see any legal definitions in law dictionaries or court cases of what transparency means.

I wonder how some of these translate into other languages of ICOM members other than English?

One Thought to “ICOM definitions of Museums”

  1. Angela Linn

    Thanks Martin for your pair of postings associated with your response to our Meet Up as well as the current debate about the ICOM definition of museums. Your PDF and Word documents are in fact showing up on your posts – they are shown as links at the very top of your posts. I can’t tell you why they show up as links rather than a thumbnail in your post – likely for efficiency in viewing! It’s part of the coding set up by WordPress.

    Thank you for sharing your TVRRM docs (mission statement and bylaws – both of which we’ll learn more about when we review the governing documents that museums develop as part of their legal and ethical operations) as well as the ICOM old and 2019 proposed new definition. My take on the term “transparency” is less that is paying lip service to the fact that “there is nothing wrong with the way they are doing things” but rather that an organization is willing to own up to those decisions and processes, especially if someone wishes to question them.

    In my experience, many modern museums who are attempting to shift their perspectives and their operational procedures are doing so with the acknowledgement that they are not perfect, that they are part of a system of institutions that are responsible (directly or indirectly) for many wrongs both in the past and present. You’re absolutely right that there certainly are museums who use these terms in their organizational documents because they are trendy and they are expected to use them without any behavioral / procedural changes that follow the change in policy. Through open letters and social media accounts like “Change the Museum” on Instagram, these museums are being called out for their hypocrisy and the directors and boards are being held accountable, whether it is sexual harassment or the daily microaggressions directed at BIPOC employees and visitors.

    I see these terms that ICOM has suggested as part of their definition to be more aspirational as a vision statement, rather than reflective of the current state of museums around the world. That doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to strive for those things, always recognizing we are not the perfect temples viewed by past generations but rather should attempt to be the forums where these conversations can take place.

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