About

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.

Defining Museum Ethics

The Institute of Museum Ethics maintains that ethical issues underpin all aspects of work in museums — from governance to education, registration to exhibitions, finances to operations and visitor services.

Whether in day-to-day decision-making or forging an overarching mission, museum ethics are about an institution’s relationship with people — individuals and groups in the communities a museum serves as well as its staff and board members.

We define museum ethics through principles related to individual and institutional behavior, such as integrity, accountability, loyalty, honesty, and responsibility.  We provide the tools to identify operative ethical principles, and we keep abreast of issues in the field as well as larger societal changes in order to anticipate the emergence of circumstances that might have an impact upon ethical practice in museums.

The Institute also holds that museums should encourage understanding and promote social justice. As a result, we support the exploration of how institutions can use the past to address present concerns, facilitate dialogue among diverse groups, and empower marginalized communities, locally and globally.

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