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.

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Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums

Following six years of research and work, ICOM’s International Committee for Museums and Collections of Natural History (NATHIST) has published a new tool for the museum community: the ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums.

The ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums, established by NATHIST in collaboration with ICOM’s Ethics Committee (ETHCOM), was formally approved at the 28th ICOM General Assembly on 17 August, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.

The purpose of the document is to define ethical standards on issues specific to Natural History Museums, providing standards of professional practice that can serve as a normative basis for museum institutions.

The NATHIST Code of Ethics begins with a position statement that explains the purpose of Natural History Museums and their responsibilities. It then focuses on the specific challenges of Natural History Museums in six sections, from the presentation of human remains and the dissemination of scientific data to the collection of rocks, minerals and fossils. The Code ends with specific standards for taxidermy.

The English edition of this document is now available.
The French and Spanish editions are currently being edited. ICOM invites National Committees wishing to translate the ICOM Code of Ethics for National History Museums into their national languages, to contact the General Secretariat for guidelines.

For more information on the ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums, please contact Dr Eric Dorfman, Chair of NATHIST, through the NATHIST website.