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Exemplary ethical practices by museum professionals are essential for ICOM members.

ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums was adopted in 1986 and revised in 2004. It establishes the values and principles shared by ICOM and the international museum community. It is a reference tool translated into 38 languages and it sets minimum standards of professional practice and performance for museums and their staff.

By joining ICOM, each member agrees to respect this code.

4. Museums provide opportunities for the appreciation, understanding and promotion of the natural and cultural heritage

Principle: museums have an important duty to develop their educational role and attract wider audiences from the community, locality, or group they serve. Interaction with the constituent community and promotion of their heritage is an integral part of the educational role of the museum.


4.1 Displays, Exhibitions and Special Activities
Displays and temporary exhibitions, physical or electronic, should be in accordance with the stated mission, policy and purpose of the museum. They should not compromise either the quality or the proper care and conservation of the collections.

4.2 Interpretation of Exhibits
Museums should ensure that the information they present in displays and exhibitions is well-founded, accurate and gives appropriate consideration to repreĀ¬sented groups or beliefs.

4.3 Exhibition of Sensitive Materials
Human remains and materials of sacred significance must be displayed in a manner consistent with professional standards and, where known, taking into account the interests and beliefs of members of the community, ethnic or religious groups from whom the objects originated. They must be presented with great tact and respect for the feelings of human dignity held by all peoples.

4.4 Removal from Public Display
Requests for removal from public display of human remains or material of sacred significance from the originating communities must be addressed expeditiously with respect and sensitivity. Requests for the return of such material should be addressed similarly. Museum policies should clearly define the process for responding to such requests.

4.5 Display of Unprovenanced Material
Museums should avoid displaying or otherwise using material of questionable origin or lacking provenance. They should be aware that such displays or usage can be seen to condone and contribute to the illicit trade in cultural property.


4.6 Publication
Information published by museums, by whatever means, should be well-founded, accurate and give responsible consideration to the academic disciplines, societies, or beliefs presented. Museum publications should not compromise the standards of the institution.

4.7 Reproductions
Museums should respect the integrity of the original when replicas, reproductions, or copies of items in the collection are made. All such copies should be permanently marked as facsimiles.

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