CFP: New ethic principles for a democratic and endorsed museum (The International Journal of Museum Studies, N. 2, 2022)

Books by Unsplash/Syd Wachs - TIAMSA The International Art Market Studies Association

The ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums sets minimum professional standards and encourages the recognition of values shared by the international museum community.  Developed in the eighties and updated in 2004, it does not incorporate, if not in a minimal part, the most important innovations of the New Museology, especially from the point of view of the museum’s relationship with its audiencies and the active participation of the communities in their making, their management and their development.

Deadline: 30 Apr 2022

The Code of Ethics identifies only these commitments of the museum towards the communities in the Principle VI «Respect for communities service»:

6.5 Contemporary Communities. Where museum activities involve a contemporary community or its heritage, acquisitions should only be made based on informed and mutual consent without exploitation of the owner or informants. Respect for the wishes of the community involved should be paramount. 
6.6 Funding of Community Activities. When seeking funds for activities involving contemporary communities, their interests should not be compromised (see 1.10). 
6.7 Use of Collections from Contemporary Communities. Museum usage of collections from contemporary communities requires respect for human dignity and the traditions and cultures that use such material. Such collections should be used to promote human well-being, social development, tolerance, and respect by advocating multisocial, multicultural and multilingual expression (see 4.3).
6.8 Supporting Organisations in the Community. Museums should create a favourable environment for community support (e.g., Friends of Museums and other supporting organisations), recognise their contribution and promote a harmonious relationship between the community and museum personnel».

Very little, therefore, and, even with respect to the ongoing revision of the ICOM definition of a museum, we strongly believe that it cannot be separated from an update of the Code of Ethics as well. In this second issue of the magazine, therefore, we expect contributions to the updating of the Code of Ethics, proposing to start from the principles present in the innovative international document approved in recent decades, the only one – it seems to us – to have received the innovative legacy of museology of the seventies of the last century.

On 27 October 2005 the Council of Europe adopted a new Convention, the Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society, better known as the Faro Convention, named after the Portuguese city in which it was adopted (CETS No. 199, 27 X 2005). Entered into force in 2011, ratified by 21 member states and signed by 6, the Faro Convention is based on principles and promises a vision of cultural heritage that defines once again its meaning. It emphasizes that it is such if it is a resource and overturns the traditional relations of authority in its identification and management, entrusted to the patrimonial communities in the framework of a public action aimed at supporting it, legally and economically.

In fact, according to the Faro Convention, cultural heritage « is a group of resources inherited from the past which people identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their constantly evolving values, beliefs, knowledge and traditions. It includes all aspects of the environment resulting from the interaction between people and places through time» (art. 2a) and «a heritage community consists of people who value specific aspects of cultural heritage which they wish, within the framework of public action, to sustain and transmit to future generations » (art. 2b). The right to cultural heritage is inherent in the right to participate in cultural life, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its management is entrusted to individual and collective responsibility towards it and aimed at building a peaceful and democratic society, respecting the sustainable use of heritage and cultural diversity (art. 1a-d).

It seems relevant to us that the 2015 UNESCO Resolution (38 C/Resolution 49) on the protection and promotion of museums reproposed a very similar definition of cultural heritage, considering it «as a set of tangible and intangible values, and expressions that people select and identify, independently of ownership, as a reflection and expression of their identities, beliefs, knowledge and traditions, and living environments, deserving of protection and enhancement by contemporary generations and transmission to future generations. The term heritage also refers to the definitions of cultural and natural heritage, tangible and intangible, cultural property and cultural objects as included in the UNESCO culture conventions » (I.6).

The second issue of “The International Journal of Museum Studies” (2, 2022) carries on the research started in n. 1 and proposes to invite for papers in a field that we intend to deliberately keep open, particularly to address two issues that have been open for decades and that to some extent they intertwine: the perspective of cultural democracy and that of participation, both at the heart of the New Museology and ecomuseology. Utopias arise from a critique of present reality, they oppose it by overturning it, but also inscribed in the order of the unattainable, the impossible, they offer the aspirations from which they originate a point of reference, a horizon to strive for. They stimulate the search for a new order, through questioning the values that preside over and structure the present order, as well as through the implementation of the practices that bring about utopia itself, as far as it is concretely achievable. We would like the papers to this issue to explore both the perspective of theoretical criticism and the horizon of practices on the dual side of museology and museum studies.

– How can the protection legislation be innovated? It is a question to be addressed not only on a national but international scale.
– On the legal level, which solutions offer more space for a museum to assume a participatory nature and status?
– Beyond the full application of the principle of accountability, taken as a form of management control extended to the community, how can a museum open up to participation in the planning, management and evaluation of its activities?
– How can the ways in which museums acquire, store and communicate their collections be innovated?
– How can the very notion of museum education be transformed?

Papers should be sent to the magazine’s scientific management of the review (Giuliana Ericani:; Daniele Jalla: by April 30, 2022.

For the editorial guidelines:

Papers not referred to the editorial guidelines will not be accepted.

The magazine «The International Journal of Museum studies» publishes annually monographic issues on topics chosen by the Management and the Scientific Committee, whose texts, selected through a “Call for papers”, procedure are all – except rare and justified exceptions – subjected to double blind peer review. In the case of the aforementioned exceptions, the Directorate, in its collegiality, which, after careful examination, assumes responsibility for the acceptance of the texts.