Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Text of AIC Draft Code of Ethics

Text of AIC Draft Code of Ethics

From: Walter Henry <whenry>
Date: Tuesday, June 15, 1993
  TO: AIC Membership in Attendance at the annual meeting, Denver
  FROM: AIC Ethics and Standards Committee Debbie Hess Norris, Chair
      Carol Aiken
      Nancy Ash
      Dan Kushel
      Donna Strahan
  Discussion Document: Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice
  DATE: May 21, 1993

  Attached please find our first discussion document, the revised Code
  of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice. The committee has worked
  diligently to prepare a proposed revision to our current Code that is
  clear, concise, practical, realistic, and inclusive. In doing so the
  committee has carefully considered all opinions and commentary
  received from the membership and made every attempt to incorporate
  necessary and recommended changes where possible.

  The committee will discuss this document at the Ethics and Standards
  Issues Session scheduled for Thursday, June 3, at 8:30 a.m. in the
  Imperial Ballroom, Hyatt Regency, Denver, Co.

  Future plans for revision are as follows: The committee will
  distribute a first draft to all AIC members in July 1993. This draft
  will incorporate changes to the document which may be based on
  recommendations from legal counsel, as well as those received from the
  membership in Denver. A final document will be presented and discussed
  at the 1994 general meeting in Nashville, Tennessee with a mail vote

  We welcome your opinions on this discussion document in terms of
  content, language, unrealistic expectations, omissions, etc. Committee
  members will be available at the Ethics and Standards table during
  most of the coffee breaks throughout the meeting.

  Please make every effort to attend the Issues Session on Thursday,
  June 3 at 8:30 a.m. Your careful consideration of and comments on this
  discussion document at that time will certainly be appreciated .


  The preservation of cultural property is the primary goal of the
  conservation profession. Cultural property, material of significance
  that may be artistic, historic, scientific, religious, or social,
  constitutes an invaluable and irreplaceable legacy that must be
  preserved for future generations.

  In striving to achieve this goal, conservation professionals assume
  certain obligations to the cultural property, to its owners and
  custodians, to the conservation profession, and to society as a whole.
  This document, the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice of the
  American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works
  (AIC), sets forth the principles that guide conservation professionals
  and others who are involved in the care of cultural property.

  Code of Ethics

  I.  Conservation professionals shall strive to attain the highest
  possible standards in all aspects of conservation, including, but not
  limited to, preventive conservation, examination, documentation,
  treatment, research, and education

  II.  All actions of the conservation professional must be governed by
  an informed respect for the aesthetic, conceptual, and physical
  character of cultural property and for the people who created it

  III. While acknowledging the legitimate right of society to make use
  of cultural property, the conservation professional shall serve as an
  advocate for cultural property, its preservation, and its appropriate
  and respectful use.

  IV.  The conservation professional shall practice within the limits of
  personal competence and education as well as within the limits of the
  available facilities.

  V.   While circumstances may limit the extent of conservation, the
  quality of conservation must not be compromised Furthermore, the
  quality of conservation shall not be affected by the value of the
  cultural property.

  VI. The conservation professional must strive to select methods and
  materials that, to the best of current knowledge, do not endanger
  cultural property. If at all possible, the conservation professional
  should not use methods and materials that adversely affect future
  examination, scientific investigation, or treatment.

  VII. The conservation professional shall document examination,
  scientific investigation, and treatment and create permanent records
  and reports.

  VIII. The conservation professional shall recognize a responsibility
  for preventative conservation by endeavoring to limit damage or
  deterioration to cultural property, providing guidelines for
  continuing use and care, recommending appropriate environmental
  conditions for storage and exhibition, and encouraging proper
  procedures for handling, packing, and transport.

  IX. The conservation professional shall treat all professional
  relationships with honesty and respect, seek to ensure the rights and
  opportunities of all individuals in the profession, and recognize the
  specialized knowledge of others. The conservation professional shall
  not detract from the dignity and credibility of the profession.

  X. The conservation professional shall endeavor to contribute to the
  evolution and growth of the profession by such means as continuing
  development of personal skills and knowledge, sharing of information
  and experience with colleagues, adding to the profession's written
  body of knowledge, and providing and promoting educational
  opportunities in the field.

  XI. The conservation professional shall promote an awareness and
  understanding of conservation through communication with allied
  professionals and the public.

  XII. The conservation professional shall practice in a manner that
  minimizes personal risks and hazards to co-workers, the public, and
  the environment.

  XIII. Each conservation professional has the obligation to promote
  understanding of and adherence to this Code of Ethics.

  Guidelines for Practice

  The conservation professional should use the following guidelines and
  supplemental commentaries together with the AIC Code of Ethics in the
  pursuit of ethical practice. The commentaries are separate documents,
  created by the AIC membership, that amplify the guidelines and are
  intended to accommodate growth and change in the field.

  Professional Conduct

  1. Conduct: Adherence to the Code of Ethics and Guidelines for
  Practice is a matter of personal responsibility. Recognizing that
  specific circumstances may have a legitimate bearing on professional
  decisions, the conservation professional should always be guided by
  the intent of this document.

  2. Disclosure: The conservation professional should share complete and
  accurate information regarding materials or procedures, analysis and
  research. The conservation professional should recognize the
  importance of published information, especially that which undergoes
  formal peer review.

  3. Laws and Regulations: Regardless of the nature of employment, the
  conservation professional should be cognizant of laws and regulations
  that may have a bearing on professional activity. Among these laws and
  regulations are those concerning the rights of artists and their
  estates, occupational health and safety, sacred and religious
  material, excavated objects, and endangered species

  4. Practice: Regardless of the nature of employment, the conservation
  professional should follow appropriate standards for safety, security,
  contracts, fees, and advertising.

      4a. Safety: Conservation professionals should be aware of issues
      concerning the safety of materials and procedures that they intend
      to use.

      4b. Security: The working and storage conditions provided by a
      conservation professional should be designed to protect cultural

      4c. Contracts: The conservation professional may enter into
      contractual agreements with individuals, institutions, businesses,
      or government agencies provided that such agreements do not
      conflict with the provisions of the Code of Ethics and Guidelines
      for Practice.

      4d Fees: The conservation professional should charge fees
      commensurate with services rendered The division of a fee is
      acceptable only when it is based on the division of service or

      4e. Advertising: In advertising and other representations, the
      conservation professional should provide an accurate description
      of credentials and services. Limitations concerning the use of the
      AIC name or membership status should be followed as stated in the
      AIC Bylaws, section 11, 13.

  5. Communication: Communication between the conservation professional
  and the owner or custodian of the cultural property is essential to
  ensure an agreement that reflects shared decisions and realistic

  6. Consent: The conservation professional should act only with the
  consent of the owner or custodian. The owner or custodian should be
  informed of any circumstances that necessitate significant deviations
  from the agreement. Whenever possible, notification should be made
  before such deviations occur.

  7. Confidentiality: The conservation professional should consider
  relationships with owners or custodians as confidential. Information
  derived from examination, scientific investigation, or treatment of
  the cultural property should not be published or otherwise made public
  without permission in writing.

  8. Supervision: The conservation professional is responsible for work
  delegated to other professionals, students, interns, volunteers,
  subordinates, or agents and assignees. Work should not be delegated or
  subcontracted unless the conservation professional can supervise the
  work directly, can ensure proper supervision, or has sufficient
  knowledge of the agent to be confident of the quality of the work.
  When appropriate, the client or custodian should be informed if such
  delegation is to occur.

  9. Education: Within the limits of knowledge and ability, time, and
  facilities, the conservation professional is encouraged to become
  involved in the education of conservation personnel. The objectives of
  the parties shall be mutually agreed upon.

  10. Consultation: Since no individual can be expert in every aspect of
  conservation, it may be appropriate to consult with colleagues or, in
  some instances, to refer the owner or custodian to a professional who
  is more experienced or better equipped to accomplish the required
  work. If the owner requests a second opinion, this request must be

  11. References: The conservation professional should limit references
  and recommendations to direct knowledge of a colleague's competence
  and experience.

  12. Adverse Commentary: Except when nondisclosure may endanger
  cultural property, the conservation professional should not volunteer
  adverse judgment or comment on the work of another. A conservation
  professional should provide advice for those seeking relief against
  negligent or unethical practices. All comments must be based on facts
  and personal knowledge rather than on hearsay.

  13. Reporting Misconduct: Allegations of unethical conduct should be
  reported in writing to the president of the AIC as described in the
  AIC Bylaws, section 11, 12. As stated in the bylaws, all
  correspondence regarding alleged unethical conduct shall be held in
  the strictest confidence.

  14. Conflict of Interest: The conservation professional should avoid
  situations in which there is a potential for a conflict of interest
  that may affect the quality of work, lead to the dissemination of
  false information, or give the appearance of impropriety.

  15. Related Professional Activities: The conservation professional
  should be especially mindful of the considerable potential for
  conflict of interest in activities such as authentication, appraisal,
  or art dealing.

  Examination and Scientific Investigation

  16. Justification: Careful examination of cultural property forms the
  basis for all future action by the conservation professional. Before
  undertaking any examination or tests that may cause change to cultural
  property, the conservation professional should establish the necessity
  for such procedures.

  17. Sampling: Prior consent must be obtained from the owner or
  custodian before a sample is taken from a cultural property. Only the
  minimum sample required shall be removed, and a record of sampling
  must be made. When possible, the material removed should be retained.

  18. Interpretation: Declarations of age, origin, or authenticity
  should be made only when based on sound evidence.

  19. Scientific Investigation: The conservation professional should
  follow accepted scientific standards and research protocols.
  Preventive Conservation

  20. Preventive Conservation: The conservation professional should
  recognize the critical importance of preventive conservation as the
  most effective means of promoting the long-term preservation of
  cultural property. The conservation professional should provide
  guidelines for continuing use and care, recommend appropriate
  environmental conditions for storage and exhibition, and encourage
  proper procedures for handling, packing, and transport.


  21. Suitability: The conservation professional should only recommend
  or undertake treatment that is judged suitable to the preservation of
  the aesthetic, conceptual, and physical characteristics of the
  cultural property. When nonintervention best serves to promote the
  preservation of the cultural property, it may be appropriate to
  recommend that no treatment be performed.

  22. Materials and Methods: The conservation professional is
  responsible for choosing materials and methods appropriate to the
  objectives of each specific treatment and consistent with currently
  accepted practice. The advantages of the materials and methods chosen
  must be balanced against their potential adverse affects on future
  examination, scientific investigation, and treatment.

  23. Compensation for Loss: Any intervention to compensate for loss
  should be documented in treatment records and reports and should be
  detectable by common methods of examination. Such compensation should
  be reversible and should not falsely modify the known aesthetic,
  conceptual, and physical characteristics of the cultural property,
  especially by removing or obscuring original material.


  24. Documentation: The conservation professional has an obligation to
  produce and maintain accurate, complete, and permanent records of
  examination, sampling, scientific investigation, and treatment. When
  appropriate, the records should be both written and pictorial. The
  kind and extent of documentation may vary according to the
  circumstances. The purposes of such documentation are:

      *   to establish the condition of cultural property;

      *   to aid in the care of cultural property by providing
          information helpful to future treatment and by adding to the
          profession's body of knowledge;

      *   to aid the owner or custodian and society as a whole in the
          appreciation and use of cultural property by increasing
          understanding of an object's aesthetic, conceptual, and
          physical characteristics; and

      *   to aid the conservation professional by providing a reference
          that can assist in the continued development of knowledge and
          by supplying records that can help avoid misunderstanding and
          unnecessary litigation.

  25. Documentation of Examination: Before any intervention, the
  conservation professional should make a thorough examination of the
  cultural property and create appropriate records. These records and
  the reports derived from them must identify the cultural property and
  include the date of examination and the name of the examiner. They
  also should include, as appropriate, a description of structure,
  materials, condition, and pertinent history.

  26. Treatment Plan: Following examination and before treatment, the
  conservation professional should prepare a plan describing the course
  of treatment. This plan should also include the justification for and
  the objectives of treatment, alternative approaches, if feasible, and
  the potential risks. When appropriate, this plan may be submitted as a
  proposal to the owner or custodian for approval.

  27. Documentation of Treatment: During treatment, the conservation
  professional should maintain dated documentation that includes a
  record or description of techniques or procedures involved, materials
  used and their composition, the nature and extent of all alterations,
  and any additional information revealed. A report prepared from these
  records should summarize this information and provide, as necessary,
  recommendations for subsequent care.

  28. Preservation of Documentation: Documentation is an invaluable part
  of the history of cultural property and should be produced and
  maintained as permanently as practicable. Reports of examination and
  treatment must be given to the owner or custodian, who should be
  advised of the importance of maintaining these materials with the
  cultural property. Documentation is also an important part of the
  profession's body of knowledge. The conservation professional should
  strive to preserve these records and to provide appropriate access to
  them, when access does not contravene agreements regarding

  Emergency Situations

  29. Emergency Situations: Emergency situations can pose serious risks
  of damage to or loss of cultural property that may warrant immediate
  intervention on the part of the conservation professional. In an
  emergency that threatens cultural properly, the conservation
  professional should take all reasonable action to preserve the
  cultural property, recognizing that strict adherence to the Code of
  Ethics and Guidelines for Practice may not be possible.


  Amendments: Proposed amendments to the Code of Ethics and Guidelines
  for Practice must be initiated by petition to the AIC Board of
  Directors from at least five members who are Fellows or Professional
  Associates of AIC. The board will direct the appropriate committee to
  prepare the amendments for vote in accordance with the procedures
  described in the AIC Bylaws Section VII.


  Commentaries: Commentaries are prepared or amended by specialty
  groups, task forces, and appropriate committees of AIC. A review
  process shall be initiated before final approval by the AIC Board of

  Ethics and Standards Edited Draft, 5/93

                   Conservation DistList Instance 7:4
                  Distributed: Thursday, June 17, 1993
                        Message Id: cdl-7-4-002
Received on Tuesday, 15 June, 1993

[Search all CoOL documents]