Ethics milestone

Alistair Brown, 14.07.2015
Feedback from the sector underpins draft Code of Ethics
What are the three most important principles that underpin the work of a museum?

This was the question we asked during our online consultation on museums ethics last winter, and more than 100 individuals and organisations replied.
 
And while there were inevitably a variety of opinions, the principles that came up most often were: accessibility and public engagement, stewardship of collections and the integrity of museums and those who work in them.
 
Respondents were clear that the reputation of the sector; the careful maintenance of collections; and the provision of collections for inspiration and education should be upheld in order for museums to maintain public trust.

It is fitting that these principles form the cornerstone of the new draft Code of Ethics. They are specific to the sector and make a good summary of what all museums stand for.
 
Importantly, they are also easy to grasp for those outside the sector. As museums face an era of funding cuts and greater public scrutiny it will be increasingly important for the public to have a basic understanding of their purpose and ethics. The new code will be one way of achieving this.

But there will be another opportunity for you to let us know what you think of the principles and the rest of the draft code before it is formally adopted.
 
The new consultation is online until  7 August and we are looking for feedback from individuals and organisations across the sector, as well as interested parties from outside.
 
There is a lot to consider in the document. It still contains much of what was good about the current code, but it also seeks to take into account the changes that the sector has seen in the 14 years since it was last updated.

New sections on digital collections and engagement and new material on sponsorship, workforce issues, loans and international work are to name a few of the changes. There will also be a stronger emphasis on earning and maintaining public trust.

So take a good look, and let us know what you think – after all it is your code.

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