In 2018 Afnic, best known as the registry operator for France’s ccTLD .fr, was designated by the Paris-based International Council of Museums (ICOM) as the backend registry provider for .museum. There are changes happening as a result of the change, not least being to increase .museum’s use and adoption, thus supporting the digital transformation of museums.
According to Afnic estimates, in 2016 only 38% of museums or related organisations in the world had a website.
So for the past year Afnic has been working in close conjunction with ICOM to set the criteria for allocating .museum domain names, as well as their distribution and pricing conditions in order to accelerate the access to digital technology of museum institutions and promote the adoption of the gTLD.
There are three main changes happening. The first is a relaxation of eligibility rules. Now any museum or museum professional (curator, chief librarian, etc.) or anyone with an interest in a museum can register a .museum domain name. It is no longer required that they be a member of ICOM, as was the case beforehand. For example, a fan of the Prado Museum can create a website with a .museum internet address. There are plenty of opportunities. Afnic note an Artprice study in 2017 that says 700 world-class museums open each year.
Second, Afnic is overseeing a widening of the registrar network for .museum with there currently being 23 registrars globally as opposed to 3 at the end of 2018.
And thirdly and very importantly for many cash-strapped museums is a major reduction in the registry fee charged to registrars. It’s expected the average registration fee will be around €60 per year, whereas previously it was around €200.