ICOM Code of Ethics

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 37 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.

ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums – download

The ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums is published in the three official languages of the organisation: English, French and Spanish. ICOM welcomes the translation of the Code into other languages. However, a translation will be regarded as “official” only if it is endorsed by at least one National Committee of a country in which the language is spoken, normally as the first language. Where the language is spoken in more than one country, it is preferable that the National Committees of these countries also be consulted. Attention is drawn to the need for linguistic as well as professional museum expertise in providing official translations. The language version used for a translation and the names of the National Committees involved should be indicated. These conditions do not restrict translations of the Code, or parts of it, for use in educational work or for study purposes.


ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums – download

The ICOM Code of Ethics for Natural History Museums, established by NATHIST in collaboration with ICOM’s Ethics Committee (ETHCOM), was formally approved at the 28th ICOM General Assembly on 17 August, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.

The purpose of the document is to define ethical standards on issues specific to Natural History Museums, providing standards of professional practice that can serve as a normative basis for museum institutions.


Checlist on Ethics of Cultural Heritage Ownership – download

Considering the complexity of the ethical questions affecting the work of museums today, the Checklist is a tool for two purposes: it sets out the 8 organising principles that shape the detailed articles of the ICOM Code, as well as providing orientation and support in dealing with these complex topics; and it offers a list of contacts for further advice on particular questions.