[Taxacom] Can the (herbarium) curators keep their own private herbaria?

Adolf Ceska aceska at telus.net
Tue Sep 11 11:53:49 CDT 2018

I received the most definitive NO! the Hungarian Natural History Museum (BP):

In Hungarian Natural History Museum (BP) not only the curators and directors but all employees are forbidden to keep private collection(s) in the coverage of the institute. It is not a new or own rule but adoption of ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums

"8.16 Private Collecting
Members of the museum profession should not compete with their institution either in the acquisition of objects or in any personal collecting activity. An agreement between the museum professional and the governing body concerning any private collecting must be formulated and scrupulously followed."

Similarly, the A CODE OF ETHICS FOR CURATORS by the American Association of Museums Curators Committee 2009, mention the "closely prescribed guidelines":  

When curators build and maintain a personal collection in any area of interest that overlaps with their museum’s identity and mission, serious potential for an ethical conflict exists. For this reason, many institutions prohibit personal collecting by staff within the museum’s mission; others allow it within closely prescribed guidelines.  

Cornell University sent me a link to the problems they had with J.C. Arthur:
Here’s a cautionary tale.  J.C. Arthur was a prominent plant pathologist and rust taxonomist. You can find a synopsis of his personal herbarium ownership saga on Wikipedia, here: 

The strict application of this rule requires, what I would call "virtual collecting celibacy" from the herbarium staff, who selected their career because of their love of collections and collecting. 
Among the emails, I got there was a story of the curator who moved in between of about six institutions and was allowed to take his personal collections with him, but he was a very lucky man.

All the best,

Adolf Ceska, Victoria, BC, Canada

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