Free Dina’s Art

Legal = Ethical? No!

ICOM Code 2.2 – “Legal ≠ Ethical”

Here are the opening lines of section 2 of the ICOM Code of Professional Ethics,  (with emphasis added), taken directly from their document :

“…2. Museums that maintain collections hold them in trust for the benefit of society and its development.

Principle: Museums have the duty to acquire, preserve and promote their collections as a contribution to safeguarding the natural, cultural and scientific heritage. Their collections are a significant public inheritance, have a special position in law and are protected by international legislation. Inherent in this public trust is the notion of stewardship that includes rightful ownership, permanence, documentation, accessibility and responsible disposal….”

The Auschwitz Museum bought Dina’s works  in the 1970s and therefore owns it rightfully, some might think. But the ICOM Code says otherwise in section 2.2, which is quoted here in its entirety: (Once again, emphasis is added to the interesting bits.)

2.2 Valid Title
No object or specimen should be acquired by purchase, gift, loan, bequest, or exchange unless the acquiring museum is satisfied that a valid title is held. Evidence of lawful ownership in a country is not necessarily valid title.”

If the Auschwitz Museum is suggesting it holds any sort of valid title to Dina’s works, this ethical ruling disallows that argument completely. And there is more…


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