Code of Ethics review
Since the Museums Association (MA) last reviewed the Code of Ethics for Museums in 2014-15, there have been significant changes in the sector and society such as the Covid pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and the cost-of-living crisis.
We therefore recognise the need to review the Code of Ethics to consider these changes and the ethical ramifications they might have.
Review consultation events
We’re pleased to announce four online consultation events as part of the review process. Find out about each and book your free place via the links below:
- 23 November 2023: Anti-racism and decolonisation
- 7 December 2023: Collections
- 11 December 2023: Climate justice
- 17 January 2024: Workforce and governance
As the first step in our consultation process, we launched a survey to collect the views of the sector on what changes need to be made to the Code of Ethics.
We had a great response to the survey, thank you to everyone who has completed it.
The review of the code will be in full consultation with the sector and key stakeholders. We have established a task and finish working group to complete the work and will then make recommendations to the Ethics Committee and the MA board.
The review will assess the effectiveness of the code, guidance and advice, and recommend any changes to improve support for members and encourage ethical practice in the sector. This could include: revisions to the text of the Code of Ethics; proposals for additional guidance or resources; and changes to how the Ethics Committee works and supports the sector.
We have now begun the consultation process, with testing and engagement events in 2023 and the final version to be agreed at the MA AGM in autumn 2024.
If you are interested in contributing to the review or have any queries, please contact India Divers, policy and campaigns officer at the Museums Association, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are pleased to announce the members of the Code of Ethics review working group.
The working group will:
- Review and assess the effectiveness of the Code of Ethics
- Support consultation with the wider sector on the effectiveness of the code
- Make recommendations for any suggested amendments to the code, or for any additional guidance, to the Ethics Committee and the MA board
The working group comprises three Ethics Committee members and four externally recruited members.
On the appointment of the working group, Michael Terwey, Chair of the Ethics Committee and MA Board Member said: “It’s great to have such a richness and depth of expertise and knowledge of practice represented on the working group, and we’re looking forward to hearing from the sector in the coming months about how we can improve the code and make it an even more useful tool for everyone who works in museums.”
Find out more about the working group members below.
Director of public engagement and research, National Trust for Scotland and Ethics Committee chair, Museums Association
Michael is chair of the MA’s Ethics Committee. Originally from Fife, Michael studied at the universities of York and St Andrews before taking a job at Wilberforce House Museum in Hull. He subsequently worked at Historic Environment Scotland, Tyne & Wear Museums, the National Maritime Museum and the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford. He has also served as a charity trustee and chair of the Social History Curators Group.
Michael’s roles have all included working with visitors, and his current job as director of public engagement and research at the National Trust for Scotland focuses on growing and diversifying the trust’s audiences to ensure the benefits of heritage can be enjoyed by everyone.
Development officer (trusts and foundations), Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales Ethics Committee member, Museums Association
Sofia is a museum professional with over ten years of experience in the cultural sector, both in the UK and abroad. She holds a BA in history and archaeology from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and an MLitt in art history from the University of St Andrews.
Sofia has extensive experience within a range of organisations, from small galleries and art venues, to national museums and sector bodies. Apart from front of house and operational roles, she has also worked within collections and curatorial teams, as well as Arts Council England, and has more recently been delving into the world of development and fundraising.
She is currently development officer for trusts and foundations at Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales. Sofia is passionate about ethical practices within the museum sector, and was delighted to join the MA’s Ethics Committee in June 2022.
Community engagement officer, Global Voices Local Choices, National Museums Northern Ireland and Ethics Committee member, Museums Association
Agrippa is a dedicated professional with over 15 years of experience in the non-profit, education and community sectors, specialising in ethics and community engagement. Currently serving as the community engagement officer on the Global Voices Local Choices project at National Museums NI, Agrippa plays a vital role in coordinating and facilitating the programme across six museums in Northern Ireland.
Their work focuses on promoting inclusivity and diversity by empowering marginalised communities to explore the world cultures collection, ensuring their voices are heard through how these objects are interpreted. Agrippa is a committed advocate for inclusive practices in museums, ethical decision-making processes and decolonisation, with extensive experience in project management and intercultural learning.
Niels de Vos
Chairman, Birmingham Museums Trust and Ethics Committee member, Museums Association
Niels was born and raised in Birmingham and educated at King Edward’s School Birmingham and Oxford University. He was recruited as chair of Birmingham Museums in 2020, and has recently been re-elected by the trustees to a second term.
Niels began his career in the advertising and sponsorship industry, before moving into major events when he joined the UK Government’s planning team for the Millennium Celebrations. While in this role he conceived and delivered the ‘Final Hour Children’s Promise’ charity appeal that raised over £50 million for UK children’s charities.
Niels has over 20 years of director-level experience in the development and delivery of major international sporting and cultural events, dating back to the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. He was heavily involved in the 2012 London Olympics, serving as both CEO of UK Athletics and as an elected board member of the British Olympic Association, and was recently an adviser to the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
In 2018 Niels set up Fabric Group Ltd to advise businesses, cities and governments on investments into sports, arts, cultural and community programmes, building the ‘fabric of society’.
Freelance e-curator and socially engaged practitioner
Livi is a freelance e-curator for Much Adu About, focusing on digital public engagement with a specialisation in geology, decolonising histories, and promoting inclusivity through storytelling and creative mediums.
With a decade of digital marketing experience, she brings her expertise in social media, SEO, and user experience (UX) to the heritage sector. As part of her AMA participation, Livi explores the integration of games, VR, AR, and AI to enrich the arts and culture sector. Her ambition is to use digital technology to create a more accessible heritage sector, welcoming contributions from all and shaping a transformative cultural landscape.
Head of museums and special collections, University of Aberdeen
Neil is head of museums and special collections at the University of Aberdeen, and a former member of the Museums Association’s Ethics Committee and of the University’s Advisory Group on Research Ethics and Governance.
Emma is a museum consultant focusing on interpretation, evaluation and organisational development. Her interest in ethics is informed by over 20 years working with difficult and sensitive histories including the Holocaust, the history of medicine, and the transatlantic slave trade. As the first director of Holocaust Centre North she worked closely with Holocaust survivors to curate its permanent exhibition and build relationships with diverse stakeholders.
Emma’s core values are curiosity, fairness, integrity and respect. Her work explores questions of power, accountability and equity and aims to support museums to be more inclusive. Clients value her ability to listen, see the bigger picture, understand nuance and complexity, and navigate conflict with care.
Associate professor, museum studies, UCL
Alice Stevenson is a professor of museum archaeology at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. She has previously held positions as the curator of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian and Sudanese Archaeology and researcher in world archaeology at the Pitt Rivers Museum.