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Exemplary ethical practices by museum professionals are essential for ICOM members.

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 into 36 languages and it sets minimum standards of professional practice and performance for museums and their staff.

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

1. Museums preserve, interpret and promote the natural and cultural inheritance of humanity

Principle: museums are responsible for the tangible and intangible natural and cultural heritage. Governing bodies and those concerned with the strategic direction and oversight of museums have a primary responsibility to protect and promote this heritage as well as the human, physical and financial resources made available for that purpose.


INSTITUTIONAL STANDING

1.1 Enabling documentation
The governing body should ensure that the museum has a written and published constitution, statute or other public document, in accordance with national laws which clearly states the museum's legal status, mission, permanence, and non-profit nature.

1.2 Statement of the Mission, Objectives, and Policies
The governing body should prepare, publicise and be guided by a statement of the mission, objectives, and policies of the museum and of the role and composition of the governing body.


PHYSICAL RESOURCES

1.3 Premises
The governing body should ensure adequate premises with a suitable environment for the museum to fulfil the basic functions defined in its mission.

1.4 Access
The governing body should ensure that the museum and its collections are available to all during reasonable hours and for regular periods. Particular regard should be given to those persons with special needs.

1.5 Health and Safety
The governing body should ensure that institutional standards of health, safety, and accessibility apply to its personnel and visitors.

1.6 Protection Against Disasters
The governing body should develop and maintain policies to protect the public and personnel, the collections and other resources, against natural and human-made disasters.

1.7 Security Requirements
The governing body should ensure appropriate security to protect collections against theft or damage in displays, exhibitions, working or storage areas, and while in transit.

1.8 Insurance and Indemnity
Where commercial insurance is used for collections, the governing body should ensure that such cover is adequate and includes objects in transit or on loan and other items that are the responsibility of the museum. When an indemnity scheme is in use, it is necessary that material not in the ownership of the museum is adequately covered.


FINANCIAL RESOURCES

1.9 Funding
The governing body should ensure that there are sufficient funds to carry out and develop the activities of the museum. All funds must be accounted for in a professional manner.

1.10 Income-generating Policy
The governing body should have a written policy regarding sources of income that it may generate through its activities or accept from outside sources. Regardless of funding source, museums should maintain control of the content and integrity of their programmes, exhibitions and activities. Income-generating activities should not compromise the standards of the institution or its public (See 6.6).



PERSONNEL

1.11 Employment Policy
The governing body should ensure that all action concerning personnel is taken in accordance with the policies of the museum as well as the proper and legal procedures.

1.12 Appointment of the Director or Head
The director or head of the museum is a key post and when making an appointment, governing bodies should have regard for the knowledge and skills required to fill the post effectively. These qualities should include adequate intellectual ability and professional knowledge, complemented by a high standard of ethical conduct.

1.13 Access to Governing Bodies

The director or head of a museum should be directly responsible, and have direct access, to the relevant governing bodies.

1.14 Competence of Museum Personnel
The employment of qualified personnel with the expertise required to meet all responsibilities is necessary. (See also 2.18; 2.24; 8.12).

1.15 Training of Personnel

Adequate opportunities for the continuing education and professional development of all museum personnel should be arranged to maintain an effective workforce.

1.16 Ethical Conflict
The governing body should never require museum personnel to act in a way that could be considered to conflict with the provisions of this Code of Ethics, or any national law or specialist code of ethics.

1.17 Museum Personnel and Volunteers
The governing body should have a written policy on volunteer work which promotes a positive relationship between volunteers and members of the museum profession.

1.18 Volunteers and Ethics
The governing body should ensure that volunteers, when conducting museum and personal activities, are fully conversant with the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums and other applicable codes and laws.