Statement of Professional Conduct

Effective November 2004

Approved by the MOMCC Membership November 2004



The Board of Directors of the Midwest Open Air Museums Coordinating Council (hereafter MOMCC) hereby promulgates, pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the MOMCC’s Bylaws, the MOMCC Statement of Professional Conduct, effective November 2004.

The MOMCC strives to honor and promote the public’s trust by issuing this statement to guide professional and ethical conduct. The absence of an explicit reference to a specific situation or action does not mean that situation or action is ethical or unethical. This statement is not exhaustive. Members who are uncertain about the ethics of a particular action are encouraged to consult with colleagues, consultants, supervisors, or legal counsel.

The MOMCC Statement of Professional Conduct applies to members in all membership categories; thus all members have an obligation to understand the statement as it applies to them. If this statement expects more of members than simple compliance with the law, members must adhere to the MOMCC statement.  Ignorance of this statement is not a defense.


Failure to conform to the spirit of this Statement of Professional Conduct can result in the removal of an elected or appointed officer and/or the rescission of membership by board action. Resigning membership in anticipation of a board-initiated inquiry will not halt the process.




1.  Professional Competence and Integrity                                               

MOMCC recognizes the International Council of Museums definition of a museum as providing minimum criteria around which to build professional goals and competencies for staff in open air, living history and interactive history museums. According to ICOM, a museum is: “A nonprofit making, permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, and open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of people and their environment” (


Museums exist as public trusts, and museum employees must commit themselves to collecting and caring for artifacts and information and conveying it in ways that model competency and integrity and that benefit the museums’ diverse audiences.


·       MOMCC members pursue knowledge of new developments and maintain competence through education, training, and supervision.


·       MOMCC members do not provide services that create a conflict of interest for themselves or their employer. In other words, no individual may use his or her position in a museum for personal gain or to benefit another at the expense of the museum, its mission, its reputation, and the society it serves.


·       MOMCC members, as presenters, teachers, interpreters, consultants and researchers, are dedicated to high standards of scholarship, present accurate information, and disclose potential conflicts of interests. 


·       MOMCC members respect the dignity and protect the welfare of research participants, and conduct research within applicable laws and regulations.


·       MOMCC members make efforts to prevent the distortion or misuse of their research findings.


·       MOMCC members make efforts to ensure sources are cited and information imparted by them is attributed to the appropriate source.


·       MOMCC members advance the profession by sharing accurate information and best practices to other members.  Information is shared throughout the MOMCC community via promotional literature, MOMCC Magazine, special publications, educational conferences, the organization’s website, etc.  The expectation is that information is freely disseminated rather than withheld.


2.  Stewardship

 MOMCC recognizes the inherent differences in artifact use and care between a traditional museum and a living history museum. Resources such as historical artifacts form the basis of programming in traditional history museums as well as open air, living history and interactive museums. Yet, these non-traditional history museums rely also on clearly documented reproductions and facsimiles and other evidence of the past such as flora and fauna and historic buildings and landscapes as a foundation for historical understanding. Responsible stewardship of such an array of data and object types necessitates broad-based knowledge in a range of disciplines.


·       MOMCC members comply with best practices in the care, conservation and management of historic artifacts, reproductions and other inanimate historic resources that ensure preservation by reducing the rate of deterioration as much as possible.


·       MOMCC members comply with best practices in care, conservation and management of animate historic resources.


·       MOMCC members recognize and act within professional standards advocated by conservators, registrars and collection managers.


·       MOMCC members recognize and are sensitive to cultural and ethnic origins of historic resources.


·       MOMCC members recognize the intrinsic (in contrast to the financial) worth of historic resources.


·       MOMCC members practice responsible deaccessioning.


3.  Interpretation

Intellectually provocative and historically honest interpretation as modeled by MOMCC members should build on Freeman Tilden’s principles as outlined in Interpreting Our Heritage: Principles and Practices for Visitor Services in Parks, Museums, and Historic Places (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1957).


·       MOMCC members interpret using sound educational practices.  Their interpretation is based upon solid research and documented sources. 


·       MOMCC members present varied perspectives to represent the cultural context. 


·       MOMCC members stress the importance of comprehending multiple points of view and conflicting opinions.


·       MOMCC members use historical resources in compliance with recommended standards of professional conduct outlined in #2 above.


4. Management

Museums can only exist because paid and unpaid staff and boards of directors practice careful stewardship of limited resources within the scope of the respective museum’s mission.


·       MOMCC members adhere to policies and procedures that ensure ethical treatment of employees, volunteers, and the general public.


·       MOMCC members comply with all local laws and codes relating to the health and safety of staff, volunteers, the public, and any livestock or other animals kept by the entity.


·       MOMCC members advocate sound financial practices designed to ensure stability and growth of the entity.


·       MOMCC members are accountable to their constituency through the publication and release of an annual report including financial audit results.



5. Responsibility to the Profession

The institutions and individuals served by MOMCC each play a role in maintaining and improving professional practices.


·       MOMCC members do not plagiarize or fail to cite persons to whom credit for original ideas or work is due.


·       MOMCC members are concerned with developing laws and regulations pertaining to historical artifacts, sites, and other materials, that serve the public interest.


·       MOMCC members do not use any professional identification that includes false or deceptive information.


·       MOMCC members do not promote themselves as experts in any venue unless they have the appropriate education, training, or supervised experience.



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