Code of Ethics

ICOM Code of Ethics for museums

Ethics and museum professionals’ exemplary practices are essential for ICOM.

ICOM Code of Ethics for museums
was adopted in 1986 and revised in 2004. It establishes the values and principles shared by ICOM and the international museum community. It is a reference tool translated to 37 languages and it sets minimum standards of professional practice and performance for museums and their staff.

By joining ICOM, each member commits to respect this code.

ICOM Statutes

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ICOM's Statutes are an essential document for the organisation. ICOM's rules clarify and complete these Statutes.

The Statutes are the foundations of the organisation and its functioning. They specify the objectives, the mission and the organisation of the structure.

The new version of this essential document was adopted in 2007 during the 21st General Conference in Vienna (Austria).

Article 04 - 4. Membership

Section 1. Members
Membership shall be open to Museums, Institutions recognised by ICOM and Museum Professionals, and such other persons or institutions considered to be beneficial for the advancement of the museum community.
All persons eligible for membership shall indicate to ICOM that they wish to become Members, that they accept and will comply with the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, and shall complete the application form to request membership.

Membership in ICOM shall not be available to any person or institution (including its employees) which trades (buys or sells for profit) cultural property including works of art, natural and scientific specimens, taking into consideration national legislations and international conventions. This disqualification applies to persons or institutions engaged in an activity which could cause a conflict of interest.


Section 2. Approval of Membership
National Committees shall forward the application form and annual subvention of new members to the ICOM Secretariat as soon as possible.

Only Honorary Members, as defined below in Section 3 of this Article, are exempt from this review process.  Their candidacy is proposed by the Executive Council to the General Assembly, which decides to accept or reject it, by a simple majority.


Section 3. Categories of Membership

  1. Individual Members – Museum professionals, as defined in article 3, still working or retired, or other persons who, because of their experience or professional services rendered to ICOM, are eligible to become individual members.
  2. Institutional Members — Museums or other institutions complying with the definition of a museum.
  3. Student Members — Persons enrolled in museum-related academic programmes may be proposed for admission to this category of membership by a National Committee.
  4. Honorary Members — Persons who have rendered exceptional services to the international museum community or to ICOM.
  5. Supporting Members — Persons or institutions providing substantial financial or other assistance to ICOM because of an interest in museums and international co-operation between museums.


Section 4. Termination of Membership
Membership of ICOM may be discontinued by voluntary withdrawal or by a decision of the Executive Council for one of the following reasons:

  1.    Change of professional status;
  2.    Breach of professional ethics;
  3.    Actions considered to be substantially incompatible with the objectives of ICOM;
  4.    Non-payment of fees after formal notice of the payment due.