Defining Museum Ethics: Agenda and Videos

Inaugural Conference of the Institute of Museum Ethics
Seton Hall University, Jubilee Hall
November 15, 2008

in Affiliation with the Seton Hall University M.A. Program in Museum Professions

The IME’s inaugural conference, Defining Museum Ethics, brought together museum theorists, museum professionals, professionals and ethicists to discuss what we mean by the terms transparency, accountability, and social responsibility.

Pre-Conference Workshop (Friday)


Keynote – On Ethics & Activism
Richard Sandell, Director and Head, Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK; author of Museums, Prejudice and the Reframing of Difference (Routledge, 2006) and editor of Museums, Society, Inequality (Routledge, 2002).


Session 1 – Identifying Problems/Negotiating Solutions
Pam McClusky, Curator of African and Oceanic Art, Seattle Art Museum, “Why is this here?”: How gallery texts conceal or reveal the ethics of collecting and displaying art

Malcolm Collum, Chief Conservator, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., Responsible Utilization: Balancing a Conservator’s Obligations with Society’s Expectations.

Patricia Capone, Curator and Repatriation Coordinator, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Post-NAGPRA: Ethics for New Ideas/New Relationships/Future Leaders

James B. Gardner, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Ethical, Entrepreneurial, or Inappropriate? Business Practices in Museums


Session 2 – Museums as Catalysts of Social Change
Beverly Robertson, Director, National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Politics in the Museum: Rights and Responsibilities

Claudia Ocello, Adjunct Faculty, M.A. Program in Museum Professions, Seton Hall University, Making a Difference: The Development and Progress of a Collaborative Program for Teen Parents and Their Children in Museums

Jane Werner, Director, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Rebuilding the Neighborhood with Sustainability at the Core

Lisa Yun Lee, Director, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum, Chicago, Museums as “Dangerous” Sites: Fostering Civic Engagement Through Radically Democratic Museum Practices

Moderator: Gary Edson, Director, Museum Studies Program, Texas Tech University, and author of Museum Ethics (Routledge, 1997)


A Discussion on Defining Museum Ethics

Peter Welsh, Director, Central Division, Arizona Historical Society, Tempe, Arizona
Judith Stark
, Professor and Ethicist, Department of Philosophy, Seton Hall University
Robert Macdonald
, President Emeritus of the Museum of the City of New York and author of the most recent AAM code of ethics
Emlyn Koster
, President and CEO, Liberty Science Center
Janet Marstine
, Director, Institute of Museum Ethics, Seton Hall University
Richard Sandell
, Director and Head, Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, UK


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