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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 38 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.


Status of the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums

The ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums has been prepared by the International Council of Museums. It is the statement of ethics for museums referred to in the ICOM Statutes. The Code reflects principles generally accepted by the international museum community. Membership in ICOM and the payment of the annual subscription to ICOM are an affirmation of the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums.

A Minimum Standard for Museums

The ICOM Code represents a minimum standard for museums. It is presented as a series of principles supported by guidelines for desirable professional practice. In some countries, certain minimum standards are defined by law or government regulation. In others, guidance on and assessment of minimum professional standards may be available in the form of ’Accreditation’, ’Registration’, or similar evaluative schemes. Where such standards are not defined, guidance can be obtained through the ICOM Secretariat, a relevant National Committee of ICOM, or the appropriate International Committee of ICOM. It is also intended that individual nations and the specialised subject organisations connected with museums should use this Code as a basis for developing additional standards.

Translations of the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums

The ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums is published in the three official languages of the organisation: English, French and Spanish. ICOM welcomes the translation of the Code into other languages. However, a translation will be regarded as “official” only if it is endorsed by at least one National Committee of a country in which the language is spoken, normally as the first language. Where the language is spoken in more than one country, it is preferable that the National Committees of these countries also be consulted. Attention is drawn to the need for linguistic as well as professional museum expertise in providing official translations. The language version used for a translation and the names of the National Committees involved should be indicated. These conditions do not restrict translations of the Code, or parts of it, for use in educational work or for study purposes.