Nat Edwards, assistant director, south, National Trust for Scotland

Ethics vox pops
What are your own professional ethical values?

For me, the museum remains a fulcrum for meaningful social change – a place to form, share and test our ideas and understanding of what the world has been, what it is and what it could be.

My ethics are driven by this: people have to trust what we show and say; people have to trust that we are honest and open about our core values and we have to trust people to be a force for good – and design our operations and processes accordingly.

We are Enlightenment institutions and to shamelessly (and unethically?) plagiarise Beatrice Warde, we need to make our collections armouries of fearless truth against whispering rumour.

What do the public need from the code of ethics?

To see themselves in it – represented at the heart of a code that values collaborating with them; that sees them as partners, co-curators and decision-makers and ultimately as the beneficiaries of every decision that we make.

They need to be able to understand the decision-making models we use very clearly and also to see a clear role for themselves as the ultimate arbiters of key ethical questions.

They should see the code as a living, engaging moral discourse within their own spheres of communication – across different social and cultural media – rather than as a technical set of processes and guidelines.

If you could change one thing about the code of ethics what would it be?

I would like to see the code extended to describe the shared moral responsibilities we have for museums – so that, for example, “safeguarding the public interest” isn’t limited to “people who work in or govern museums” but is a collective responsibility for communities.

That includes people working in and governing museums but also their neighbours, various communities of interest – sharing a duty to define and ensure long-term public interest.