Ethics roadshow

Sharon Heal, 27.05.2015
Ethics consultation has provoked thoughtful and useful responses
One of the great things about my job is that I get to see lots of museums of all sizes in all corners of the UK. What is even better is meeting the people who work in them.
One of the crucial elements of the review of the Museums Association’s (MA) Code of Ethics has been the ongoing consultation with people who work in the sector, as well as stakeholders in the UK and abroad.

Facilitating discussion and listening to the feedback and debate has been a vital part of the process, and has thrown up some really interesting examples of the ethical challenges that people who work in museums are wrestling with on a day-to-day basis.
So far we’ve grappled with questions on: whether to acquire a 'planted' archaeological find; when to intervene in a Twitter storm about institutional bias; what to do when people complain about the content of a challenging exhibition; and whether to return loaned objects that will be neglected.
Last week at one of the MA’s regular members’ meetings in Exeter, we also talked about commonly held values that might guide our thinking and actions. It was a stimulating debate with some great ideas that centred around having a clear set of principles that everyone, including the public, could understand and sign up to.
This chimes well with the findings of our online consultation, which has highlighted integrity, stewardship and public access and engagement as key values.
Last week I was also in Belfast for one of our ethics consultation events. Participants at the meeting were also keen to have headline values that are accessible, as well as guidance to help with decision-making.
We are analysing the results of all of the consultations and will produce a draft that will be available for further consultation in July.

It has been a fascinating consultation process, which I am pleased to say has had great sector buy-in and provoked thoughtful and useful responses. I am confident that the end result will be as stimulating and inspiring as the discussion so far.


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19.06.2015, 20:53
Having been to the Glasgow consultation I was impressed by the level of thinking going on.

Look forward to reading the draft in July