The Museums Association have been consulting with the museum sector about the Code of Ethics. AIM is grateful to the Museums Association for leading the review of this important document and has submitted a response to the consultation. The key points are summarised below and there is a link to the full response.
The Association of Independent Museums (AIM) is the national organisation connecting, supporting and representing independent museums and galleries, which form the majority of the UK’s museums. AIM’s membership includes 800 museums, from the largest institutions to the smallest, volunteer-run museums.
- Cross-sector support: The Code needs to be a document that the whole sector endorses and can unite behind, otherwise it may well be ineffective in helping to meet current challenges such as unethical sale of collections. In order to ensure this is achieved a cross-sector working group is needed.
- Museum specific and based on ethical principles, not policy aspirations: The code should be concerned with issues that are specific to museums. It should be concerned with matters of ethics only: it should not replicate the existing legal framework within which museums operate and it should not include policy positions or general guidance. Museums are extremely diverse and the Code should identify matters of principle, but not be prescriptive about how those principles should be applied by individual museums.
- Short format based on key ethical principles: A shorter format, based on key principles relevant to museums (AIM proposes – Stewardship, Access and Integrity), should be used. This should be supported by more in-depth guidance or toolkits in separate documents, where needed.
- For museum organisations and museum professionals: The code should be drawn up with a clear understanding of who it is for. It should be used by all decision-makers in museums and museum organisations should sign up to it through the Accreditation process as well as museum professionals through the AMA: as such, it should be accessible to lay-people such as Trustees.
- Linked to Accreditation: The Code should be effectively linked to Accreditation as the framework for baseline national standards for museums and galleries.
- Robust challenge: The Code must be in practice robust enough not only to withstand quasi-legal challenge, but also clear enough that a simple independent arbitration process can elucidate what is considered ethical behaviour from the unethical. The Arts Council Accreditation panel could well be an appropriate arbiter for judgments of this kind.
You can read AIM’s full response here. AIM response to Code of Ethics consultation Feb 2015