Principles of the MA's Code of Ethics

MA Ethics Committee concerns over mummy head crowdfunding

Patrick Steel, 24.10.2016
Victor Wynd Museum wants to buy 1,000-year old mummified head of Peruvian boy
The Museums Association’s (MA) Ethics Committee has expressed concern over a crowdfunding campaign by the Victor Wynd Museum to purchase a 1,000-year old mummified head of unclear provenance.

The museum, which is based in Hackney, London, has removed “donor perks” of human bones and the opportunity to take the mummy home, after it was contacted by the committee. But it is still offering “mummy dust”, described as “a pinch of powdered mummy, with a signed certificate of authenticity”, to anyone gifting £30 to the campaign.

In total, the museum is looking to raise £6,666.

Rowan Brown, the chairwoman of the MA’s Ethics Committee, said: “Many MA members have contacted the Ethics Committee in relation to the Viktor Wynd Museum’s crowdfunding campaign.

“We have corresponded with the museum and, though we have not yet succeeded in preventing the acquisition, we have managed to get several of the “donor perks” removed, such as the gift of human bones, and the ability to name or borrow the mummy.

“The campaign is the antithesis of ethical best practice in the respectful treatment of human remains, and I hope that through continued dialogue, we manage to persuade the museum not to proceed with this purchase.”

Links and downloads

Museums Association Code of Ethics

DCMS Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museums