Standards developed and used within the museums community fall into a number of broad categories:
In addition, museums make use of a broad variety of standards developed in other public and private industry sectors. These include:
Standards range in degree from voluntary/professional consensus to requirements written into law or statute. For example, most museums worldwide are closely concerned with Copyright Law, because they are responsible for acquiring, managing and using a significant amount of copyright material.
The increasing standardization of museum practice has largely arisen from the influence of technological change, industrialization and changes in patterns of consumer behaviour.
A number of countries have implemented national standards frameworks for museum development. Some, like the Museum Accreditation Scheme implemented in the UK by the Museums, Archives and Libraries Council (MLA) are essentially minimum standards - defining a common basic expectation of the quality of services in museums. Elsewhere, standards are used to establish a baseline against which to benchmark museums. Standards are also used to monitor and improve performance.