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Defining the Museum: Struggling with a New Identity


Photo credit: International Council of Museums

In this article by Brenda Salguero for Curator: The Museum Journal, the definition of museums and their purpose is examined. Recently, The International Council of Museums (ICOM) released a new definition of museums in September 2019, focusing on museums as spaces which promoted human dignity along with being venues for critical dialogues on social conflicts and challenges of the present. Salguero dives into the heated and various responses that sprung up from this new definition given by ICOM and how the definition of what a museum is-- and should be-- has changed over time.


“I do not think we will ever reach a perfect consensus and satisfy everyone. Perhaps we need to refocus our efforts and stop attempting to come up with the perfect definition. Instead, a simple aspirational statement can work as a guiding star, to serve as a touchpoint between all types of institutions. We can then focus our efforts on actions, on creating spaces that truly serve and represent our communities.” - Brenda Salguero