Solidarity Project

Ethical Collecting during the Pandemic: a shared space for museum professionals

A collaboration project between COMCOL, IC Ethics and seven other partners from different parts of the world

The global crisis caused by the arrival of COVID-19 has not only forced us to rethink our daily lives and the way we work, but also the systems under which our societies have functioned. Moreover, the pandemic has exposed the shocking impoverishment that has existed, for far too long. And thus creating or increasing a series of pre-existing and concurring crises in all sectors of our societies: social, political, financial, and cultural. Museums and other collecting organisations around the world (like archives) have been confronted with several challenges pushing them to re-examine and change the way they work. Most museums were forced to close, museum staff faced redundancies or had to adapt to new ways and methods of working. However, right from the beginning of the global crisis, many museums developed projects to collect the pandemic and record this extraordinary situation that the whole planet has experienced. In some parts of the world, institutions have already worked on contemporary collecting and they relied for these collecting efforts on their previous experiences. However, this is not the case everywhere. On the other hand, even institutions that do have experience in contemporary collecting had to face new challenges regarding the ethics that this new situation has brought for individuals and institutions (transparency of goals; collecting protest, hate, or harmful material; rights and permissions; minimization of harm and representation of historically marginalized groups hit hardest by pandemic; collecting with sensitivity; collecting in an environmentally sustainable way, etc.). Therefore, COMCOL in collaboration with IC Ethics and partners from different parts of the world (see below) proposed this project, which main objectives are:

  • To develop an international dialogue regarding collecting during the pandemic and concurring crises and aspects of them, as well as the ethical decisions that need to be made during this type of projects.
  • To create an online resource/repository – in multiple languages (English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Finnish, Greek, etc.) – that museums could use to develop their COVID 19 contemporary collecting programs and other urgent collecting projects in an ethical manner.
  • To provide training resources for the development of programmes focusing on the ethics of contemporary collecting.

Please find an abbreviated project description here:

and follow us for seven round tables which the project will conduct.

Upcoming event

Information on the way

Past Events

Nordic Aspects of Collecting COVID-19

WEDNESDAY 13. October 2021 at 11:00 UTC + 02 – 12.30 UTC + 02

TAKO Network for Collection Management and Contemporary Documenting in Finland presents a webinar on collecting COVID-19 focusing on Finland and Denmark with comparisons to Norway, Iceland and Sweden. The webinar is part of the project ‘Collecting with Care, Ethics in Museum Work’ by the International Council of Museums, International Committee for Collecting and International Committee on Ethical Dilemmas.The webinar is chaired by MA/PhD Ulla Salmela, Director of Development in the Finnish Heritage Agency. The keynote speakers are MA Curator Maria Ollila from the National Museum of Finland and MA Archivist Bente Jensen from Aalborg City Archives in Denmark. They will shed a light on different aspects on collecting the pandemic in the Nordic Countries as well as ethical viewpoints. After the keynotes, there will be time for discussion and questions. Chat will be open during the webinar.

12.00: TAKO Welcomes you to the webinar! by Johanna Jakomaa, Chair, TAKO Network
12.05: COMCOL’s opening words by Alexandra Bounia, Secretary, COMCOL ICOM International Committee for Collecting
12.10: Maria Ollila
Collecting the Covid-19s Effect on Society – How Did the Critical Sectors Act in Finland?
Maria Ollila will discuss how the National Museum of Finland together with the Picture Collections of the Finnish Heritage Agency documented and explored the action of the sectors critical to the functioning of the society, such as the Covid-19 healthcare and parliamentary work, during the time of crisis and what challenges they faced.
12.40: Bente Jensen
The unspoken ethics
Corona related Collection in the Nordic Countries
An overview and discussion of the Danish museums and archives on the documentation of covid-19 crisis based on a recent national survey on the theme with an outlook to the other Nordic countries. What did we learn? – ethical, legal, and organizational challenges performing rapid response collection during a pandemic.
13.10: Discussion
13.30: The end of the webinar


Collecting with Care – Ethics in Museum Work

Presented by the National Museum of Australia in partnership with the International Council of Museums (ICOM), International Committee for Collecting and International Committee on Ethical Dilemmas.

This project has been partially funded through the ICOM Solidarity Projekts programme.

Friday 23 July 2021
Noting that the webinar will run from 10:00am AEST to 4:30pm AEST.

Find the video via YouTube: