• News
  • Jun 05, 2024

Medea Ekner Appointed Director General of International Council of Museums

Portrait of MEDEA EKNER. Courtesy International Council of Museums. 

The Paris-based International Council of Museums (ICOM) announced the appointment of Medea Ekner as its director general, concluding a strenuous year-long search for a new head.

Ekner brings expertise from over 25 years of museum experience in Sweden and New Zealand. She has acted as ICOM’s interim director general since June 2023, and previously served as vice-chairperson of its advisory council. Ekner was also a former chair of ICOM Sweden and a board member of the ICOM Nord Regional Alliance.

As director general, Ekner will work with executives and committees to develop the objectives outlined in ICOM’s 2022-28 Strategic Plan. In a press release, she stated that she aims “to lead ICOM into the next phase of its transformation, addressing the needs of the museum network and of a rapidly changing society. Digital transformation is a priority, along with enhancing the organization’s response to global challenges that impact cultural heritage and the communities affected by it.”

Ekner’s confirmation follows a period of turbulence within ICOM, as disagreements over the organization’s proposed museum definition led to the resignation of nine committee and executive board members. The contentious definition—which described museums as “polyphonic spaces” with the goal of “contributing to human dignity, social justice, global equality, and planetary well-being”—received criticism for its excessively political and ideological messaging. In a joint statement, the former members expressed disapproval of ICOM’s handling of these discussions, citing a “catastrophic failure of good governance.”  A new definition was finally agreed upon in 2022, with a focus on inclusivity, accessibility, sustainability, and ethics.

ICOM is a global NGO dedicated to establishing professional and ethical standards for museum activities. The membership association represents over 53,000 professionals in over 129 countries.

Mioie Kwok is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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