ICOM – Ecomuseums and Community Museums

International Council of Museums (ICOM)

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) is a Public Interest Organization and was created in 1946 for and by museum professionals. Today the organization has over 35,000 members and considers themselves “the world museum community.” Every three years an ICOM General Conference is held. The conferences take place over the course of a week and are attended by more than 1,500 experts and professionals.

ICOM’s 24th General Conference took place in Milan, Italy from July 3rd to the 9th in 2016. The 25th General Conference will be held in Kyoto, Japan from the 1st to the 7th of September in 2019. The General Conferences are composed of general assembly sessions and forums.

ICOM’s 24th General Conference

The theme of the 24th General Conference was “Museums and Cultural Landscapes.” A key forum within the conference was the “Ecomuseums and Community museums Forum.” During this forum, there was great discussion and debate on ecomuseums, community museums, and the relationship between the two. Two central challenges were explored at length. The first was a debate on ecomuseums or community museums and the second was on the topic of cultural landscape. Through these discussions, a Cooperation Charter was formed and decided upon.

Cooperation Charter

The Cooperation Charter outlines a common vision that includes four key points.

1. Ecomuseology is a constantly evolving concept so a standard unique definition is not possible. 

2. Ecomuseums are participatory processes that facilitate sustainable social, environmental, and economic development. 

3. Ecomuseums are specific projects that relate to the cultural heritage of an area. 

4. Ecomuseums develop creative and inclusive practices for local communities, organizations, and associations.

The Cooperation Charter hopes to be a step forward and as such it outlines responsibilities and shared objectives through nine key points. The Charter is to be considered a “work in progress” resource. The Charter ultimately hopes to energize and foster cooperation between the world of ecomuseums and community museums.

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