ICOM in brief


The International Council of Museums is the world’s leading, non-profit, non-governmental organisation connecting museums of all kinds and disciplines, other member institutions and experts in a worldwide communications network. The ICOM has more than 30,000 members from 137 countries, combined in 117 national and 31 international committees relating to different aspects of museum work. It has connections with numerous regional organisations or alliances. It was founded in 1946. The ICOM maintains formal partnership relations with UNESCO and many other world organisations and associate members. It is dedicated to the preservation, development and mediation of knowledge relating to the world’s natural and cultural heritage, current and future, movable and immovable, material and non-material (living).  

The ICOM works for the protection of and broad access to universal heritage – cultural and natural, material and non-material, movable and immovable – taking into account cultural diversity in relation to national borders and interests. It functions in line with UNESCO’s 2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity for the promotion of natural and cultural diversity and universal heritage in strategic partnerships, and the UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (Paris, 20 October 2005). Among other things, it recommends  the establishment of more functional cooperation between inter-governmental organisations (such as UNESCO, ICCROM and WIPO – The World Intellectual Property Organisation) and international non-governmental organisations (such as ICOMOS, IFLA, ICA, INTERPOL, WCO), national heritage organisations including museum associations, archives and libraries, as well as higher education and research institutions. 

It responds to globalisation by calling for a new, universal responsibility for heritage in all its expressive forms and, in the context of current striving for a more rapid implementation of sustainable development, calls for support for all initiatives and measures guaranteeing greater financial and intellectual autonomy for museums. It also promotes the idea of museums becoming more attractive to the public and for their transformation into settings for the acquisition of experience, of knowledge on cultural heritage and for intercultural dialogue. 

The seat of the organisation is in Paris, where in 2006 it celebrated its 60th anniversary.