Letter to the President, Executive Board and General Director of ICOM sent on June 26 to the Secretariat with the request to forward

juli 02 2020

To the President a.i., Executive Board and General Director of ICOM,
(c.c. to the fellow chairs of the Committees of ICOM)

The recent and sudden resignation of our President, two members of the Executive Board and many others caused unrest amongst our members. The messages we received from the new President and the Executive Board were not helpful nor sufficient to understand the causes and did not offer hopeful perspectives.

From the many messages we received in the last weeks we must conclude there is little confidence amongst our members in the governance of ICOM.

Allow us to share the following observation with you.

A global NGO as ICOM is, needs shared values, a common acceptance of its working structure, transparent lines and ways of communication. In short: a reliable and good management and governance.
When good governance and transparency are lacking, there is room for interpretations, assumptions, distrust and even intrigues, to the frustration of everybody involved.
What happened around the Museum Definition is a clear illustration of what can go wrong when governance fails. The escalation that occurred in 2019 and 2020 disappointed and damaged many fellow members in and around this Committee. More than this: it damaged the confidence of our 45.000 members in ICOM as an organization of professionals.

Reading our Code of Ethics, we noticed an emphasis on working in museums but we missed a code of good governance for ICOM itself.
Noticing the development of digital techniques that facilitate grass roots initiatives, multilateral communication et cetera we miss adequate innovation in ICOM’s transparency.
Knowing the vast amount of expertise in our committees, we missed a fruitful use of this expertise and an attitude of mutual trust when it comes to the general management of ICOM.

The members of ICOM deserve a responsible, adequate and transparent governance. We deplore the events that led to the resignations mentioned above. We deplore the lack of governance that was shown. And most of all we deplore the disappointment of so many members in our ICOM.

This being said, we urge you to continue the dialogue about the Museum Definition in a fruitful way. Reflecting on and discussing of the core of our profession marks the health and natural progression of our global organization.

Best regards,
Chair and Board of ICOM The Netherlands