Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics

PIMA Code of Ethics for Pacific Museums and Cultural Centres


The Pacific Islands Museums Association (PIMA) has existed as an Affiliated Organisation of ICOM since 1998.

PIMA and its members fully endorse and support the ICOM Code of Ethics.

In addition, PIMA is proud to produce this specialized code for professional museum work particularly adapted to the values of Pacific Islands museums and cultural centers.

Guiding principles

Pacific Islands museums and cultural centers:

1. are the custodians of collections of cultural resources that they hold in trust, foremost for their creator communities and the peoples of the Pacific, secondly for the benefit of people and communities elsewhere;

2. have a primary responsibility to assist communities to maintain and safeguard their continuing intangible cultural heritage;

3. build and maintain relations of cultural understanding and mutual respect with the communities they serve;

4. support the reconnection of ex-situ cultural resources, located domestically or internationally, with their creator communities;

5. are advocates for cultural diversity and sustainable, culture-centered development;

6. will advocate with governments to provide the appropriate financial and other support they require to discharge their responsibilities;

7. will advocate with governments for the effective implementation of national legislation and international conventions relating to the protection and conservation of cultural resources, and

8. encourage museums from outside the Pacific to support the repatriation of cultural resources to the countries and communities of origin. 

In line with these principles, Pacific Islands Museums and Cultural Centres will:

1. Relate with communities 1.1 engage communities in all aspects of the management of museums as well as their own cultural heritage;

1.2 assist communities to manage their own heritage by providing training, capacity-building, and ongoing support;

1.3 build the professional skills of their staff and the communities they serve;

1.4 ensure appropriate representation of the creator communities’ knowledge and beliefs in all museum activities, public programs, and interpretative materials;

1.5 maintain an active relationship with communities in the documentation and conservation of historical, cultural, and natural places, which can be used in museum exhibitions and educational programs.

2. Provide access

2.1 address their responsibilities to provide appropriate access to their premises, collections, research, and public programs for all members of the communities they serve;

2.2 support the use of local vernacular languages, where appropriate, in public programs, publications, and interpretive materials (e.g., labels, wall texts, tour guiding, talks) in addition to the official languages of the respective country or territory.

3. Monitor research

3.1 develop and promote guidelines for the undertaking of research on aspects of the cultural heritage, addressing responsibilities of both museums and others facilitating fieldwork and research (‘target bodies’) and the institutions supporting researchers (‘sponsoring bodies’);

3.2 develop mechanisms to ensure that researchers collect for facilitating museums (‘target museums’) as well as for their own institutions (‘sponsoring bodies’). 4.

Assess the significance

4.1 ensure that their personnel is knowledgeable in appropriate processes for assessing the significance of cultural resources;

4.2 assess the significance of cultural resources on the basis of the primary importance of the cultural values that they bear for their creator communities, in addition to the secondary values of their authenticity, age, or rarity;

4.3 refrain as far as practicable from placing monetary values on cultural resources

Please Note: This Code of Ethics was developed during a workshop as part of the Pacific Museums in Sustainable Heritage Development Workshop, held at the Australian National University in Canberra in February 2006. The facilitation was expertly co-chaired by PIMA Executive Board Members, Lawrence Foana’ota (Director, Solomon Islands National Museum) and Ralph Regenvanu (Director, Vanuatu Cultural Centre) with the assistance of Bernice Murphy, (Chair, ICOM Ethics Committee) and Professor Amareswar Galla (Director of Graduate Studies in Sustainable Heritage Development, The Australian National University). It was developed in direct response to the newly published (revised) version of the ICOM Code of Professional Ethics (Paris, 2006), and represents the first region-specific ethics code taking its springboard from the new version of the ICOM Code


Secretary - General : Tarisi Vunidilo
Pacific Islands Museums Association
PO Box 5043, Port Vila
+678 22129
+678 25319
Mobile: +678 5340447
Fax: +678 26590

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