Mission and History

Our Mission

The Institute of Museum Ethics promotes accountability, responsibility, and sustainability in museums.

We do that by:

  •  convening conversations about critical ethical issues facing museums today, and
  • creating a physical and virtual community of emerging and practicing museum professionals and museum studies faculty who can use our resources to make informed decisions about ethical matters.


Our History

The Institute of Museum Ethics is a programmatic initiative of the Master of Arts in Museum Professions program at Seton Hall University.  Ethics has been a long-standing concern in the Museum Professions program.  Ethics topics appear in many of the  MA in Museum Professions courses including History and Theory of Museums, Anatomy of Museums, Legal and Ethical Issues in Museums, Museums and Communities, Museum Registration I and II, Object Care, and Exhibitions A-Z.

In 2007, Janet Marstine founded the Institute of Museum Ethics with the support of a three-year Twenty First Century Museum Professionals Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums.  Dr. Marstine led the Institute for from 2007 until 2010.

Since its inception, the Institute of Museum Ethics has hosted three international conferences and a number of lectures.  It has also generated courses on museum ethics and cultural heritage, initiated dialogues about contemporary ethical issues for museums through its website and listserv, and collaborated with the Center for the Future of Museums of the American Association of Museums on a nationwide forecasting exercise on future ethical issues.

Institute of Museum Ethics conferences have resulted in two major publications, setting future directions for the field:

  • The Routledge Companion to Museum Ethics:  Redefining Ethics for the Twenty-First-Century Museum, Janet Marstine, Editor, New York: Routledge (2011), and
  • Special Issue of Museum Management and Curatorship:  New Directions in Museum Ethics, Vol 26, No. 2, May 2011.