Ethical standards and professional guidelines are codes of behavior that evolve over time and represent a consensus of opinion in an organization or association about appropriate actions to take under particular circumstances. They are generalized principles and cannot enumerate every eventuality that might occur. Moreover, they are rarely legally binding, or even enforceable by the group. But they serve an important function: to articulate current norms and expected standards of behavior. Below is a list of guidelines enacted by various professional arts groups (in alphabetical order), primarily regarding the collecting, acquisition, and ownership of art objects, including objects that may have been looted during the Nazi era, or antiquities that may have been looted from archaeological sites or been exported from their countries of origin in contravention of patrimony or other laws. Clicking on the links leads to the full text of the guidelines. IFAR will update and expand this list, as needed.
American Alliance of Museums (formerly American Association of Museums) (AAM)
In addition to the above guidelines, professional ethics and standards are discussed in many hard-copy publications, particularly those relating to museum governance. An excellent resource is the American Association of Museums' Bookstore, www.aam-us.org/bookstore. See also various books on art law, such as Law, Ethics, and the Visual Arts, 5th edition, by John H. Merryman, Albert E. Elsen, and Stephen K. Urice (Kluwer Law International, 2007), pp. 232-246; 1238-1271, and passim.