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 38 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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The Statutes of the International Council of Museums (hereinafter referred to as “ICOM”) is the basic document of the Organisation. The Internal Rules of ICOM and the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums define and complete these Statutes.

The new version of this essential document was adopted by the Extraordinary General Assembly of ICOM in Milan (Italy), held on 9th July 2016.

Article 04 - 4. Membership

Section 1. Members
Membership shall be open to Museums, Institutions recognised by ICOM and Museum Professionals.

All persons eligible for membership shall indicate to ICOM that they wish to become Members, agreeing to accept and adhere to the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, and shall complete the application form to request membership.

ICOM membership shall not be available to any person or institution (including its employees) that trades (i.e. buys or sells for profit) cultural property - including works of art and natural and scientific specimens - taking national laws and international conventions into consideration. Likewise, persons or institutions engaged in an activity that conflicts with ICOM´s ethical standards shall not be eligible for membership.

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 shall be proposed by the Executive Board to the General Assembly, which shall decide on whether to accept or reject it by a majority vote.

Section 3. Categories of Membership


  1. Individual Members – Museum professionals, as defined in Article 3 Section 3, still working or retired, or other persons as defined in Article 4 Section 1 shall be eligible to become individual members.
  2. Institutional Members — Museums or other institutions that comply with the definition of a Museum as defined in Article 3.
  3. Student Members — Persons enrolled in museum-related academic programmes may be proposed for admission into 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. All former elected ICOM Presidents are deemed Honorary Members.
  5. Supporting Members — Persons or institutions providing substantial assistance to ICOM both financially and otherwise, due to an interest in museums and the international co-operation between museums.

No categories of ICOM membership other than those described in the Statutes shall be deemed valid or applicable by ICOM at any level.

Section 4. Termination of Membership
ICOM membership may be voluntarily withdrawn or revoked by a decision of the Executive Board for one of the following reasons:

  1.    Change of professional status;
  2.    Infringement of ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums;
  3.    Actions deemed substantially incompatible with the objectives of ICOM;
  4.    Non-payment of fees after formal notice of the payment due.