Call For Moderators
Are you a museum professional interested in or dealing with an ethical dilemma? Would you like to discuss this with your colleagues? We invite you to be a moderator of our virtual open platform dicussions!
You can find all information about the IC Ethics Meeting Room and what to consider as a moderator in these documents:
French version soon available!
About the Virtual Open Platform Discussions
The ICOM International Committee on Ethical Dilemmas (IC Ethics) is an open forum on practical challenges regarding ethical dilemmas in the museum profession. The IC Ethics Meeting Rooms are digital spaces where museum professionals and others with interest in the respective topic can reflect, share and discuss ethical dilemmas, helping each other to make more informed choices. The events aim to support and unite professionals in all relevant working fields in their attempts to discuss ethical dilemmas with colleagues in a collegial and helpful environment. All participation is free of charge.
By joining the meeting, you confirm that you will follow its rules:
- Please anonymize cases and ethical dilemmas as no sensitive information can be shared.
- Please respect the time limits set by the moderator.
- Disrespectful and inappropriate comments or behaviour cause immediate muting and dismissal from the meeting.
- Please note that the introduction to the meeting will be recorded and published (the recording will not show the images or names of general participants besides moderator and speaker).
- By continuing to follow this meeting, you commit to following these rules.
We record and publish the introductions to the meetings, but not the following discussion as the IC Ethics Meeting Room is meant to be a safe and protected space.
Working group IC Ethics Meeting Room:
Organisation: Dr. Kathrin Pabst, Dr. Lina Tahan, Dr. Valeria Pica, Søren la Cour Jensen
Dr. Kathrin Pabst, Kathrin.Pabst@vestagdermuseet.no
Upcoming (For past events see below)
Ethical Challenges when Working with Personal Narratives on Sensitive Topics – 27 May 2021
Moderator: Dr Kathrin Pabst, Chair of IC-Ethics
Panelists: Neringa Latvytė (University of Vilnius, Lithuania)
Urška Purg (National Museum of Contemporary History, Slovenia)
Ivalo Olsvig (The House of Knud Rasmussen, Denmark)
22 participants followed the presentations, and several of them contributed to the conversation after the recording had stopped. The discussion was mainly related to the added demands of working with personal narratives of minorities the museum employee him- or herself is a part of. Also, it was pointed out how personally demanding it is to listen to difficult experiences when one can recognise the feelings expressed. Colleagues one can talk to and get advice from, as well as the support from institutions leader is crucially important to be able to conduct the work properly and avoid burn-outs.
New Meeting Room Event coming up!
Ethical Challenges when Working with
Personal Narratives on Sensitive Topics
Thursday, 27 May 2021
08:00 PST – 10:00 CST – 11:00 EST- 17:00 CET
Under the surface of our societies, there are thousands and thousands of stories that could add shades and details to a black-and-white picture of historical events. But many of these stories are too private, too personal or too traumatic to share. Feelings of despair, shame, guilt or even trauma might be involved, and one could be afraid of the reactions of others when telling them. Here, museum institutions and museum professionals might function as mediators and connecting links between those who are willing to share and those who need to know. In this process, there are many ethical considerations to take. How to collect personal narratives on sensitive topics from individuals who often want to be anonymous, and how to present them? How to meet the needs of all involved, also the museum professionals themselves?
Moderator: Dr Kathrin Pabst, Chair of IC-Ethics
Panelists: Neringa Latvytė (University of Vilnius, Lithuania), Urška Purg (National Museum of Contemporary History, Slovenia) and Ivalo Olsvig (The House of Knud Rasmussen, Denmark).
Note: All panelists are part of the same international cooperation project, “Identity on the Line”, and will relate in their presentations to this.
Please see www.i-on.museum for more information.
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Photo: Giedrė Tylaitė
Neringa Latvyte is a historian by training, researcher and author of a few books on the Holocaust in Lithuania. She is working on her PhD on the communication of the Holocaust memorial sites at the Faculty of Communication, Vilnius University where she is a lecturer of communication of traumatic memory and cultural heritage as well. She has published several articles on the memorialization of traumatic past in Lithuania. Her current research combines practical and theoretical challenges on transmission of traumatic unspoken memories.
Within I-ON, she is a national coordinator for the Lithuanian partner, who deals with the stories of wounded silent past and unspoken memories of women who survived the Second World War. The focus is to analyse the effect of traumatic events of the Holocaust survivors and how their trauma is generational transmitted.
Photo: National Museum for Contemporary History, Slovenia
Urška Purg is an ethnologist and cultural anthropologist and museum counsellor in the National Museum of Contemporary History. Nearly a decade ago, she found herself having a knack for museology in all its forms, and the contextualisation of museums on the national and international level. Since then, she has been passionately working on participatory museology projects tackling the topic of inclusive museums. Having also a degree in social pedagogy contributes a great deal to the challenges she is facing.
Within I-ON, she is a national coordinator for the Slovenian partner, who is focusing on the stories of those who migrated to Slovenia from the federal republics of ex-Yugoslavia after the Second World War, their children and grandchildren and how they perceive their identity. The focus is on inclusively presenting the stories of sense of belonging, reasons for moving and who we are; switching from ‘making the exhibition about’, to ‘making an exhibition with the storytellers’.
Ivalo Katrine Birthe Foget Olsvig
Photo: The House of Knud Rasmussen
Museum Curator at The House of Knud Rasmussen. Ivalo Olsvig holds a Master of Arts (MA) in Greenlandic & Arctic Studies with specialization in Museology from The University of Copenhagen. Ivalo Olsvig is employed on the EU project ‘Identity on the Line’, supported by the EU-program ‘Creative Europe’. She will help to uncover issues of identity, identity creation and migration among Greenlanders living in Denmark and the experiences and encounters that two cultures can cause. Ivalo was previously employed at The National Museum of Denmark, The Brumleby Museum and The Natural History Museum of Denmark. In addition, Ivalo Olsvig is on the support committee in Denmark for The Greenland Christmas Seal, and SoMe-manager for ICOM Ethics.
ONLINE KICK OFF EVENT
Dear IC Ethics members – please provide your input now!
What do YOU think a new Museum Definition should contain –
and is anything missing in ICOMs Code of Ethics?
Until the 11th of April 2021, all National and International Committees as well as Regional Alliances and Affiliated Organisations of ICOM are asked to connect with their members to collect contributions to ICOMs new museum definition & a possible review of the Code of Ethics. Both processes are essential for the ICOM Community, and they will go hand-in-hand.
We hereby invite you to share your thoughts, wishes and insights by
- Filling out the attached document and send it to email@example.com by 1st of April, or
- Give your input directly by joining us for a Meeting Room Event on
Thursday, 4th of March at 08:00 PST//10:00 CST//11:00 EST//17:00 CET.
Please register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYsdO6sqzwoEtMUwXpqDaKqXMFEIQlB9vY_
Here, you will find more information on
THE MUSEUM DEFINITION:
- ICOM member space: scroll down on your dashboard, click thumbnail ‘Take part in the new definition of the museum!’
- Youtube channel IC Ethics: Towards a new Museum Definition with Lauran Bonilla-Merchav, Co-Chair of ICOM Define:
THE CODE OF ETHICS:
- Youtube channel IC Ethics: Towards a possible review of ICOMs Code of Ethics with Sally Yerkovich, Chair of ETHCOM:
Publics marginalisés et institutions culturelles : présence, influence et participation
Friday, 26th of March 2021
09 PST – 11 CST – 12 EST – 18 CET
Cette séance du Comité de dilemmes éthiques de l’ICOM s’interroge sur les questions récurrentes, mais fondamentales suivantes : comment favoriser la présence de publics issus de communautés socialement et culturellement marginalisées dans les musées et les institutions culturelles ? Comment assurer leur présence dans les lieux ? Comment favoriser cette dernière de façon éthique – en abordant notamment les enjeux de leur représentation et pouvoir d’influence ? À quelles conditions les liens créés se renforcent-ils avec des initiatives participatives ? Quels en sont les enjeux ?
Ces questions seront abordées dans une réflexion transversale issue du partage de bilans de trois projets riches expérimentés au Québec :
(1) la recherche-action de laquelle est tirée Médiation culturelle, musées, publics diversifiés. Guide pour une expérience inclusive (Écomusée du fier monde, Ève Lamoureux, Francine Saillant, Noémie Maignien et Fanny H-Levy);
(2) l’exposition Témoigner pour agir (Marie Nengeh Mensah, Jamie Wilson Goodyear et 3 groupes communautaires partenaires : COCQ-SIDA, GRIS-Montréal, Stella, l’amie de Maimie);
(3) l’application mobile RAMY [Regarde à travers mes yeux] (Start-up montréalaise Cilia en collaboration avec une équipe mise sur pieds par PRISME, le laboratoire d’innovation en médiation numérique du Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal).
Inscription nécessaire: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcpdu-vrDouGNRFEnL-Ig2AIXQmMj6Rb1RT
Ève Lamoureux est professeure au département d’histoire de l’art de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). Ses recherches portent sur une réflexion art et politique, notamment sur l’art engagé, les arts communautaires et la médiation culturelle. Elle est membre du Centre de recherche Cultures – Arts – Sociétés (CELAT) et de l’Observatoire des médiations culturelles (OMEC).
Laura Delfino est doctorante au département d’histoire de l’art et d’études cinématographiques de l’Université de Montréal. Encadrée par la Chaire de recherche du Canada en muséologie citoyenne, sa recherche porte sur le rôle de l’institution muséale dans la construction du sentiment d’appartenance. Elle collabore actuellement avec PRISME, le laboratoire d’innovation en médiation numérique du Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.
Éric Giroux est directeur de l’Écomusée du fier monde, à Montréal, depuis avril 2020 et responsable de la recherche et des collections. Il est détenteur d’un baccalauréat en science politique et d’une maîtrise en histoire. Impliqué au sein de cette institution depuis plus de 20 ans, il a participé à plusieurs projets de recherches universitaires et a réalisé de nombreuses expositions.
Jamie Wilson Goodyear est artiste, professeur au Collège John Abbott en arts visuels et candidat au doctorat en Études et pratiques des arts à l’UQAM. Sa recherche-intervention doctorale s’ancre dans le co-commissariat de l’exposition Témoigner pour Agir. Jamie combine une réflexion critique sur les témoignages artistiques, la queerté et la vie avec le VIH en tant que commissaire et en tant que créateur dans les marges entre l’artisanat et l’art.
Noémie Maignien est candidate au doctorat en Muséologie, Médiation, Patrimoine à l’Université du Québec à Montréal et membre du CELAT et de l’OMEC. Elle a travaillé dans les milieux culturels et communautaires à Montréal. Ses recherches portent sur les publics de la culture et les institutions culturelles à travers le prisme de l’accès à la culture.
Maria Nengeh Mensah est professeure titulaire et directrice à l’École de travail social de l’UQAM. Chercheure féministe engagée socialement, elle mène des projets de recherche-action réunissant les milieux associatifs et académiques autour des défis liés à la stigmatisation et à l’inclusion sociale de communautés sexuelles et de genres diverses. Elle dirige le groupe de recherche Cultures du témoignage.
Towards a review of ICOMs Code of Ethics
Thursday, 11 February 2021
08:00 PST – 10:00 CST – 11:00 EST- 17:00 CET
Welcome to an informative event about ICOMs Code of Ethics and its upcoming review!
Parallel with the process towards a new museum definition, ICOM has asked its Standing Committee for Ethics (ETHCOM) to oversee a review of the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums. All ICOM members are invited to identify what is missing from the current Code of Ethics, and what is needed to make it an even more powerful tool for today’s museum profession. This survey of the membership will help ICOM determine whether a revision of the Code is necessary at this time.
Join us for an informative Meeting Room Event with Sally Yerkovich, Chair of ETHCOM, and get first-hand information about the process ahead – and how you personally can contribute to it.
Check out ICOMs member space for more information: https://icom.museum/en/news/icom-define-consultation-2-what-should-be-part-of-the-new-museum-definition/
Towards a new Museum Definition
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
08:00 PST – 10:00 CST – 11:00 EST- 17:00 CET
Welcome to a Kick Off Event for input for a new museum definition!
On Thursday, 10th of December, ICOM presented a new way forward towards a new museum definition. Under the lead of Lauran Bonilla-Merchav and Bruno Brulon, ICOM Define is working with an inclusive approach, transparent methodology and openness all steps of the way towards a new definition of a museum. The process is aiming to arrive at the next ICOM General Conference in 2022 with a museum definition proposal to be submitted for a vote. In advance, four rounds of consultation with all members will be conducted.
IC Ethics hereby invites all our members to a Kick Off Event with Lauran Bonilla-Merchav. Here, you will be provided with all input needed to know to make your voice be heard while discussing this crucial topic.
Save the date and check out ICOMs member space for more information about the process and all relevant documents:
Dominant political power influencing museums’ programs
Since many museums are often symbols of status, power and prestige of nations and regions, it is not uncommon that state or local politics endeavour to influence their programs. Even more so, some museums might be perceived as instruments of dominant political power. In some cases, especially those where museums serve patriotic educational purposes, nationalistic messages might be spread through their activities. That arouses many ethnical questions concerning muted voices, disregarded themes or ideologically appropriated interpretations.
Moderator: Dr. Lidija Nikočević, Board Member of IC Ethics
16 November 2020: Intangible Culture and its Interpretation in Museums
Intangible cultural heritage (ICH) is regarded as heritage but at the same time as living traditions. That means that many communities, the holders of these traditions, are experiencing them as a vital part of their identity – sometimes even as something intimate – that serves to strengthen the ties within the community. When interpreted and made public within museums’ programs, another dimension and way of communicating of a living tradition occurs, together with ethical dilemmas about the holders’ privacy, respect for their criteria regarding choices and evaluation and many other issues that might negatively influence the interaction between museums and communities.
Moderator: Dr. Lidija Nikočević, Board Member of IC Ethics
Panelists: Dr Marc Jacobs (Belgium), Leena Marsio (Finland), Jorijn
Neyrinck (Belgium), Tamara Nikolić Đerić (Croatia), Joanne Orr (UK)
(A short summary of the discussion will follow soon.)
8 October 2020: Ethical Challenges when Working on the Return of Heritage from Colonial Collections
Moderator: Andrea Kieskamp, Board Member of IC Ethics
Introduction: Dr. Jos van Beurden, affiliated senior researcher colonial collections and restitution issues at the Free University, Amsterdam (Netherlands)
Presentations of recent ethical dilemmas: Dr. Aimé Kantoussan, Director of Research of the Museum of Black Civilisations, Dakar (Senegal); Dr. Adriana Muñoz, Latin American curator at the National Museums of World Culture Sweden (Sweden) and Roselyne Francken MA, curator and keeper of the Asia collection at the MAS, Antwerp (Belgium)
Colonial heritage and the discussion on return is a highly sensitive issue. In recent years, the topic has moved up the agenda in European countries with a colonial past. The calls for justice from former colonies are becoming louder and louder. The discussion of this Meeting Room started by questioning paragraph 6.2 in the Code of Ethics for Museums (2004): “Museums should be prepared to initiate dialogue for the return of cultural property to a country or people of origin”. Are we not beyond the point of “prepared” sixteen years later? Shouldn’t museums be asked for a more pro-active attitude? What dilemmas – on both sides – complicate a return process? Does the diaspora have a role?
In his introduction, Jos van Beurden formulated three benchmarks for dealing with claims and urges for return: trust, equality and justice. The participants supported the basic principle but stressed that they need to be further elaborated. Various complexities were then discussed.
Important dilemmas were raised, among others related to questions to whom and how to return the objects. To a source community or to a national government? And who decides about the priorities in provenance research? The ideal situation was described as a process in which all parties work together right from the start, and one participant stated that the process of joint provenance research was even more important than the actual return of objects. This is especially important when museums have no proper documentation about objects from former colonies. Again, mutual exchange of knowledge between museums and local communities is essential here, as museums have to approach knowledge in another and new way and to take into account intangible heritage connected to the objects.
25 August 2020: Who gets to decide in the end? Sponsors and museum professionalism
Moderator: Dr. Kathrin Pabst, Chair of IC Ethics
Introduction: Prof. Dr. Sally Yerkovich, Chair of ETHCOM
Museums often depend on the cooperation with private sponsors when in need of more money to fulfill working tasks in the way they wish to. In many countries, financially strong companies are willing to help with generous financial contributions, and private investors may give or lend parts of their collections. However, major ethical challenges can arise, when this transfer of resources is linked to certain demands on how the museum has to use the money or objects. This can jeopardize the high level of professional and institutional integrity as well as autonomy of museums as stated in Principle 1.10 of ICOM Code of Ethics. Challenges can also arise when a sponsor’s reputation is called into question. Is there anything a museum can do to protect itself from this kind of controversy?
Twenty-two participants, mainly from the U.S. and Europe, joined this IC Ethics Meeting Room to discuss ethical dilemmas related to sponsors and museum professionals. Among the issues discussed, after the introduction by Sally Yerkovich, was the question to which degree a focus should be placed on the way sponsors earn their money. Also, it was pointed out that there are several levels of frameworks which are important when working together with sponsors, as for example national laws, professional codes of ethics or institutional codes of ethics. Institutional fundraising policies, based on all important laws and frameworks, were mentioned as extremely important, and they have to be known among all employees of the museums, the communities and potential sponsors. As a cooperation with sponsors will most likely increase in the future, the wish for sharing good contracts among museum institutions and professionals was expressed. IC Ethics will share examples when sent to them. ETHCOM is aiming to publish guidelines on fundraising policies by the end of this year, and also share examples of contracts on the ICOM membership space.
29 July 2020: The Ethics of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion (DEAI) Work in the Museum Sector (Special Meeting Room/Webinar)
Moderator: Armando Perla, Board Member of IC Ethics
Panelists: Thiané Diop (Canada), Patty Arteaga (USA), Michael Jacobs (South Africa), Craig Middleton (Australia), Megan Sue-Chue-Lam (Canada), Julián Zapata Rincón (Colombia)
What does it mean to do DEAI work in Museums? What are some of the ethical challenges and consequences faced by institutions that overlook DEAI work? How do these challenges affect museum professionals working in these areas?
In this special event organized and hosted by IC Ethics, participants had the opportunity to hear and engage with museum professionals who utilize different strategies to advance DEAI work in their institutions. They also shared practical examples of how they have helped those institutions address some of those ethical challenges arising from overlooking this necessary work.
IC Ethics hosted a special meeting room to learn how museum professionals from around the world are working to redress the unequal distribution of power and foster the meaningful participation of historically excluded communities in museum institutions. Panelists discussed their own experiences working in this area, the absence of ethical guidelines for museum professionals working with vulnerable groups, different ethical dilemmas they have faced and strategies they have developed to overcome them. Topics ranged from Black, Indigenous and People of Colour led mobilization campaigns against racism in museums and university museum studies programs in North America to collaborative work with queer youth in Australia. From a national museum in the United States collecting and preserving the material culture of mobilizations led by undocumented migrants to curatorial work engaging the sex worker, trans and BDSM communities in the way an art museum in Colombia is opening its doors to become more attuned to the needs of its neighbours.
1 June 2020: Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property
Moderator: Dr. Lina G. Tahan, Board Member of IC Ethics
Introduction: Dr. Christos Tsirogiannis, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies
Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Property addresses many serious ethical dilemmas that all museum professionals can face when acquiring artefacts to enrich their collections. Questioning the provenance of the object before acquiring it and doing the due diligence are two important issues to consider in the profession. In the past few years, the trade in illegal artefacts coming from war-torn countries became so serious that ICOM, Interpol and UNESCO became the main actors that played a role in fighting this reprehensible phenomenon. We will be introducing the topic and discuss the scourge of this trade.
Twenty-eight participants from different parts of the world joined our IC Ethics Meeting Room to discuss this problem and the ethical dilemmas that they face as museum professionals. Among the points discussed were the need to look at archives and examine the provenance of how the artefacts entered the museum collection and the need to report to the authorities all wrongdoing, talk to the press and to the experts. This was pointed out as our due diligence for working in line with the ICOM Code of Ethics. Other ethical challenges discussed were related to the lack of academic ethics when publishing an artefact in scientific journals or books knowing that they are stolen objects. Several legal tools and instruments that museum professionals should use when they face this ethical dilemma in their line of work, were mentioned, as well as the need to work actively to ensure that countries sign the UNESCO Convention of 1970, the UNIDROIT Convention of 1995, etc. Last but not least questions regarding repatriation came up, and the fact that there are not enough ethical guidelines about these cases yet.
18 May 2020: Ethical dilemmas related when working for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion
Moderator: Dr. Valeria Pica, Board Member of IC Ethics
Introduction: Cristina Da Milano, Board Member of Culture Action Europe
Equality in museum professions has been deeply affected during the lockdown due to the pandemic and many museum professionals – especially educators and free lancers – are experiencing difficult times. Probably, many of them won’t get back to their job position and this prospect makes many questions rise about possible disparities in cultural institutions activities in the months to come.
IC Ethics celebrated the International Museum Day 2020 by giving voice to museum professionals who are experiencing unequal working conditions due to the pandemic lockdown all around the world, oriented towards educators and freelancers. Their jobs have been on the line because of how they have been furloughed, and they are the one group who have suffered the most because of the sudden closure of museums. Cristina Da Milano focused in her introduction on working conditions such as social protection, lack of visibility, and sustainability, on the importance of human capital and the recognition of the social value of education in museum institutions. Ethical dilemmas discussed afterwards were related to the professional skills that will be lost after the pandemic’s end if many free lancers and educators won’t get back to their job positions, and to the narratives museums will draft about this period.
23 April 2020: Launch of the IC Ethics Meeting Room
Moderator: Dr. Kathrin Pabst, Chair of IC Ethics
The very first IC Ethics Meeting Room has taken place on Thursday the 23 rd of April 2020, with more than 50 participants from approximately 20 different countries, including Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Cyprus, France, Great Britain, Scotland, Italy, Albania, Slovenia, Portugal, Canada, Japan, Guatemala, India and Australia!
Thanks to all the 50 participants who made this first meeting a fruitful, productive and encouraging experience for IC Ethics!
The meeting aimed to test the platform and to collect topics of common interest and to examine which ethical dilemmas ICOM members regard as the most relevant and urgent. Among others, these topics have been mentioned:
- Illicit trafficking of artefacts,
- Restitution and repatriation of colonial or holy artefacts,
- Political interference in professional reviews,
- Working in conflict zones,
- The museums´ and the museum professionals´ role as active contributors in situations of crisis (e.g. poverty, refugees),
- Relations between public actors and museum professionals, including sponsorship,
- COVID-19 and its impact on museums as public spaces and working places,
- Diversity, equality, inclusion in museums, among the staff and with communities/the public,
- Exhibitions and the use of language as political statements,
- Openness and transparency in museum organisations.