Staff Policy D-501.01
Institutional Effectiveness Criterion: Operations

Dennos Museum Center Code of Ethics

I. Introduction
In recognition of its public responsibility, the Dennos Museum Center (DMC) at Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) will endorse and uphold the highest ideals and concepts of ethical and professional practices. Those standards and commitments are defined in this Code of Ethics. It is intended to serve as a guide for the institution and all associated faculty, staff, students, trustees, and volunteers.

The DMC's collection is a public and educational program that collects, documents, preserves, and interprets objects, and disseminates the knowledge gained from them to serve society. To promote public trust, high standards of operation and behavior are necessary at all levels of the DMC, including individual members of governing bodies, subdivisions and associations, volunteers, and staff. Maintaining these standards is a collective and individual effort.

As an institution actively involved with the mentorship of future museum professionals through volunteerism and internships, the DMC has an added responsibility to students and the professional community to follow the recognized standards of the profession. For this reason, principles expressed in the Code of Ethics of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG), and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) are endorsed and adapted as part of the Code of Ethics of the DMC. This Code of Ethics is applicable to all parties associated with the DMC.

Statement of Position
Scope: This Code of Ethics pertains to all governing bodies, faculty and staff members, students, volunteers, and associated groups of the DMC.

Authority Recognition: This Code of Ethics is superseded by all laws, regulations, and international agreements of the United States and the State of Michigan. Within this framework, this Code of Ethics is also superseded by the general policies and regulations of NMC and specific regulations applicable to certain individuals, such as students and faculty.

Endorsements in Principle: This Code of Ethics endorses in principle the guidelines of AAM and ICOM. Within this framework, the Code of Ethics also endorses in principle the guidelines established by those disciplines and/or professions that are recognized as having affiliations with museums in the United States.

In situations where differences may occur, the interests of the DMC will take precedence over the guidelines endorsed in principle.

Implementation: This Code of Ethics serves as the umbrella for the mission and policies of the DMC. The policies, established by the governing body of the DMC, are carried out under the guidance and supervision of its designated representative, the Executive Director. The development of associated procedures is generally the responsibility of the Executive Director and designated staff.

Periodic Review and Interpretation: An Ethics Committee, appointed by the Executive Director, addresses any recommended changes of this document and resolves any issues raised about its interpretation. This Code of Ethics is reviewed at least once every five years, and is amended as needed.

II. Governance: General Responsibility
The NMC Board of Trustees and academic administration, in the persons of the President and applicable Vice President(s), is the governing authority for the DMC. The governing body serves all parts of the DMC as well as the faculty, staff, students, visitors, and supporters and/or associated groups of the DMC. While the governing body has the responsibility of serving these parties, it must also insure that all activities are in agreement with federal, state, and NMC regulations, as well as the mission and policies established for the DMC.

Agreements and Contracts
The governing body, through its designated representative, the Executive Director, reserves the right to negotiate and involve the DMC with corporations, agencies, or other outside parties in projects and programs which have mutual interest. The governing body will not obligate the DMC to projects or programs that do not serve NMC's interests, or to situations that compromise the resources needed for ongoing activities related to the DMC's primary functions.

Fiscal Matters
The governing body is responsible for using budgeted funds and resources to serve the interests of the DMC and its mission, in a manner that provides an appropriate balance of allocations for staff, collections, facilities, equipment, programs, services, and other gallery and collection functions. In all fiscal matters, the governing body, through its agents, maintains full documentation and accountability for resource expenditures.

The governing body recognizes that the greatest asset of the DMC is its staff, and that the quality of the staff is directly related to the DMC's ability to build and maintain collections, conduct research, develop exhibit and education programs for public and academic audiences, and perform ongoing services. For this reason, the governing body, acting through the Executive Director, is responsible for providing job descriptions, hiring qualified staff, providing training and career enhancement opportunities, supporting adherence to the Code of Ethics, providing resources to perform jobs, conducting periodic performance reviews and evaluations, and developing work environments that are in agreement with federal, state, and NMC regulations that address health, safety, and personnel issues.

The governing body recognizes that the collections are the foundation of the DMC's functions. The governing body recognizes that the possession of these collections incurs legal and ethical obligations to provide proper housing, management, and care for the collections and associated documentation. For these reasons, the governing body, acting through the Executive Director, is responsible for assuring that the scope of each collection agrees with the DMC's mission, that collection growth is balanced with available resources, and that appropriate allocation is made of personnel, facilities, equipment, services, and support to address the ongoing needs of each collection.

The governing body recognizes the importance of serving both public and campus audiences, and that these audiences help justify financial support from federal, state, local, and private sources. For this reason, the DMC establishes activities that serve its broad constituency; is a facility that provides a responsive, safe, and comfortable environment; and, is a resource for accurate information. The DMC is particularly sensitive to dealing properly with cultural, social, and legal issues, such as due respect for human remains, handicap access, and religious and cultural diversity.

III. Collections
Collections are developed, managed, and conserved for use in research, exhibits, and/or education programs for public and academic audiences. To ensure these collections will be available for future generations, utilization is balanced with current preservation standards and practices.

The growth and development of collections adheres to the Mission Statement, Scope of Collections, and Acquisition Policy of the DMC, particularly to legal and ethical acquisition, clear ownership, provenance, condition, value, need, and ability to provide proper long­ term care. The DMC is committed to continued growth and development of collections, in a manner that reflects quality and relevance over quantity . New acquisitions will emphasize collection integrity, object integrity, and maximum associated information.

Management, Care, and Use
The management, care, and use of these collections follow the Collections Management Policy of the DMC, which outlines management concerns including but not limited to: security, loans, object utilization, integrated pest management, emergency preparedness, and preventive conservation. Implementation of the Collection Management Policy is based on written procedures that:

  1. Meet museum and academic standards for the respective collections;
  2. Include specifications for providing proper care with respect to environment, housing, and handling, and;
  3. Incorporate all parts of the collection, including objects, associated data, collection records, reference material, and specialized collections.

The disposal of accessioned collection objects follows the Deaccession section of the Collections Management Policy of the DMC and written procedures for policy implementation. All deaccessioned material is approved by the Collections Committee, documented fully, clearly justified, disposed of appropriately, and free from problems of ownership, conflict of interest, and ethical and legal issues. No personal gain resulting from deaccessioned material is to be realized by any individual having affiliations with the DMC or the NMC.

Furthermore, any funds realized from deaccessioned objects may only be used to acquire additional artworks for the collection.

Funds may not be expended for any other purposes, including but not limited to: staffing, construction, capital equipment, and other non-acquisition expenses.

Financial Management and Capitalization of Collections
As adopted by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG), NMC shall not capitalize art collection holdings on its financial statements. Per the AAMD:

The collections the museum holds in public trust are not financial assets and may not be converted to cash for operating or capital needs. No collection or portion thereof may be pledged as collateral for a loan, except that a museum may grant a security interest in a work that it is acquiring in order to secure the payment of the balance of the purchase price. To present fairly the museum's financial position, collections should not be capitalized. (For further guidance on professional practices in art museums and reference to applicable accounting standards, see Appendix B, p. 20, paragraph D). Likewise, no funds established for future art acquisitions (endowment or otherwise) should be pledged as collateral for loans. Member organizations should follow applicable accounting standards regarding the use of restricted funds and honor donor intent regarding the establishment and use of such funds.

Furthermore, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) makes it clear that accreditation shall not be granted to institutions with capitalized collections. Institutions that engage in this accounting practice shall be in direct violation of the AAM's code of ethics:

There is increasing pressure on museums to capitalize their collections and to use them as collateral for financial loans to the museum. The Alliance's Code of Ethics for Museums requires that collections be "unencumbered," which means that collections cannot be used as collateral for a loan. The AAMD code of ethics also precludes using collections as collateral, and further bars museums from capitalizing collections. The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) has also issued a position statement that declares that capitalizing collections is unethical.

IV. Conduct of Individuals
This Code of Ethics pertains to all governing bodies, faculty and staff members, students, volunteers, and support and/or associated groups of the DMC.

Responsibility of the DMC
Code of Ethics, Policies, and Procedures: Individuals having an affiliation with the DMC are expected to be familiar with and to abide by the Code of Ethics, Policies, and Procedures adopted by the DMC.

Duties and Responsibilities: Individuals having an affiliation with the DMC are expected to fulfill all duties and responsibilities of their designated position and written job description, in a timely and professional manner.

Use of Resources: All resources of the DMC, including personnel, salaried-time, facilities, collections, images, equipment, supplies and funds serve the interests and purposes of the DMC. Unauthorized use of these resources by any individual, strictly for personal benefit, is ethically irresponsible and may be regarded as a conflict of interest, fraud, or theft.

Discretion and Confidentiality: Individuals affiliated with the DMC have unique responsibilities related to maintaining the DMC's image, trust, and credibility to its public and academic audiences. For this reason, affiliated individuals must:

  1. Properly represent the DMC and their position when interacting with others;
  2. Exercise professional discretion about activities and concerns of the DMC, and;
  3. Hold in confidence relevant information concerning matters such as collections, personnel, and security.

Conflict of Interest: Individuals having an affiliation with the DMC must avoid situations that may be construed as a conflict of interest. Concerns about potential conflicts of interest will be conveyed immediately to the appropriate NMC authority. The purpose of this concern is to prevent the actual or perceived conflict between personal collecting and the objectives of the DMC. Potential conflicts of interest include:

  1. Personal collecting within the curatorial collection areas of the DMC;
  2. Using DMC affiliation, DMC resources, or the influence of one's position in unauthorized ways solely for personal benefit, or to serve solely the interests of persons outside the DMC;
  3. Placing the DMC in a situation that compromises its mission, policies, functions, practices, or philosophies;
  4. Placing the DMC in a situation that it unduly competes with outside parties, and;
  5. Participating in other employment that compromises one's capability to perform in a timely and professional manner.

Responsibility to Collections
Integrity of Information: The DMC's ability to serve its public and academic audiences is dependent on the quality and accuracy of available information. Such information includes object and collection documentation, personal communications, formal presentation, written correspondence, publication, exhibits, and educational programs. For this reason, individuals affiliated with the DMC will maintain information integrity with respect to accuracy and completeness.

Integrity of Preservation: The DMC's ability to perform its functions is dependent upon the quality of object preservation and conservation. Individuals affiliated with the DMC will demonstrate respect for the object by following professional museum preservation procedures, providing protection from agents of deterioration, providing proper housing, and exercising safe handling.

Integrity of Operations: Individuals affiliated with the DMC collections will be knowledgeable about their respective collection(s), museum and academic standards related to their collection(s), and changes in philosophies and practices for properly managing and caring for the collection(s).

Responsibility to Other Individuals
Public and Academic Audiences: Individuals affiliated with the DMC will be responsive to the DMC's public and academic audiences, and treat each individual with professional courtesy.

Professional Associates: Individuals affiliated with the DMC will be responsive and cooperative with professional associates outside of the DMC organization.

DMC Affiliates: Individuals affiliated with the DMC (e.g., volunteers, students, administration) will respect the property and rights of one another. Individuals will acknowledge the roles and responsibilities of each other, and will cooperate as needed to promote the mission, functions, services, programs, and image of the DMC. Supervisors and faculty are responsible for the actions of the individuals under their direction and will take an active role in providing direction, instruction, communication, and group cooperation.

If any provision(s) of this policy or set of bylaws conflicts with laws applicable to Northwestern Michigan College, including the Community College Act of 1966, the Freedom of Information Act, or the Open Meetings Act, as each may be amended from time to time, such laws shall control and supersede such provision(s).

Adopted by the Northwestern Michigan College Board of Trustees January 27, 2020