Code of Conduct - Museums Association

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Code of Conduct

This Code of Conduct has been created to help us all create safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces and experiences for everyone across our events and digital platforms.

As part of a drive towards more inclusive museums, many elements of our work are addressing issues of social justice. This can require conversations and interactions about things that are difficult, challenging and have personal meaning to people. These conversations can be tricky to navigate.

Social justice work can also, in a small proportion of situations, lead to harassing or discriminatory behaviour. To address this, we have worked with peers in the sector to put together this Code to guide our shared work towards an inclusive sector.

Our definition of inclusion is defined as ‘a state of being and feeling valued, respected and supported’.

Working towards inclusion

As we work together as a sector towards inclusion, we expect and encourage our members, participants and users to:

  • Behave in a mutually respectful and thoughtful way, and listen carefully to other people – being kind and courteous and not bullying or using hate speech
  • Be mindful of how others might be feeling – be alert for cues that a person is uncomfortable with a situation or conversation and respond appropriately
  • Respect other people’s privacy – participating in physical and digital spaces requires mutual trust. Authentic, expressive discussions make participation great but may also be sensitive and private. Content, views and images should not be shared outside the space, including screenshots

Discrimination and harassment

We recognise that certain people have experienced and still experience disproportionate discrimination and harassment. This is because of the way society responds to characteristics such as age, ethnicity, disability, sex, religion or belief, and sexuality. These characteristics (amongst others) have therefore been protected under the Equalities Act 2010.

In addition, certain people have benefited or continue to benefit from privilege, whether they are aware of it or not. Privilege means that people are less likely to face harassment – or be aware of it. 

Some examples of harassment are:

  • Physical contact without consent or after a request to stop
  • Comments, posts or actions that minimise a person’s lived experience, identity or safety
  • Deliberate misgendering, e.g. to purposely call a transgender man ‘her’
  • Continuing a conversation when someone has signalled that they are uncomfortable
  • Deliberate ‘outing’ of a person’s identity without their consent, e.g. making and stating assumptions about a person’s sexuality
  • Unwelcome sexual attention
  • Deliberate intimidation or stalking of any kind
  • Collection or distribution of harassing photography or recordings
  • Threats or acts of violence

Letting us know

If you experience or are witness to any of the above behaviour, please contact Tamsin Russell, our workforce development officer, via

What happens next

We will not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind. Anyone asked to stop any discriminatory or harassing behaviour is expected to comply immediately. We may act to redress anything disruptive or making the environment unsafe for participants, including removing the participant and their content from digital or physical spaces.

Anyone engaging in the behaviours outlined above may be subject to expulsion from MA membership with no refund from an event or future events. In addition, we will follow procedure for reporting hate crimes if they occur.


This code draws upon and is informed by the knowledge and expertise of:

Theodore W Allen; American Alliance of Museums; Cambridge English Dictionary; Detroit: The Radical Education Project; WEB Du Bois, 1935 Black Reconstruction in America;;; Lisa Kennedy, Emma MacNicol, Donata Miller; Museums Association Transformers alumni; NYC Revolutionary Youth Movement; Oxford English Dictionary


Cisgender – denoting or relating to a person whose personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.

Disclosure – the act of making something known. Only the individual concerned has the right to disclose things about themselves and their identity. People should not have disclosures made about them and they should not feel pressured to disclose things about themselves.

Identity – who a person is, or the qualities of that person that make them different from others.

Lived experience – a person’s first-hand experience. Widely used in social justice, mental health, health and homelessness settings as a way of recognising and acknowledging the expertise that comes from experiencing something directly.

Outing – public disclosure of an aspect of a person’s identity.

Privilege – a set of unearned benefits given to people who fit into a specific social group. Ideas around social and psychological privilege experienced by white people were written about in the 1930s by WEB Du Bois and expanded into the idea of ‘White Skin Privilege’ during the American Civil Rights movement in the 1960s by Theodore W Allen. It is used today as a way of thinking about how power operates in society. The idea that some people have more privilege than others is still the subject of debate almost 100 years after being introduced.

Social justice – the objective of creating a fair and equal society in which each individual matters, their rights are recognised and protected, and decisions are made in ways that are fair and honest.

Stalking – the Crown Prosecution Service defines the following behaviours as stalking, when part of a course of conduct (carried out repeatedly or with intent to harass):

  • Following a person
  • Contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means
  • Publishing a statement or any other material relating to or purporting to relate to a person or purporting to originate from a person
  • Monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of e-communication
  • Loitering in any place whether public or private
  • Interfering with any property in the possession of a person
  • Watching or spying on a person

Transgender – denoting or relating to a person whose personal identity and gender does not correspond to their birth sex.


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