Art on Loan

A museum loan offers a philanthropic opportunity to share your passion for works of art that are not otherwise available to the general public. Museum exhibition can enhance the provenance of your artwork. Likewise, a museum may provide valuable, scholarly details about your collection. Before you agree to loan, consider the following:

Museum Accreditation: Standards vary among museums. Likewise, standards of U.S. museums differ greatly from those overseas. The American Association of Museums set standards for U.S. accreditation, whereas the International Council of Museums is responsible for international standards. Make certain the museum is properly accredited.

Fine Art Insurance: The borrowing museum is responsible for all aspects of the loan and associated cost, including insurance. The museum should provide “wall-to-wall” insurance from the time the work is taken from your “wall,” during transit, throughout the exhibition and until the work is returned to you. Ask your agent and broker to review the museum’s insurance policy and evaluate the financial strength of the insurance carrier. Discuss whether you should maintain your own insurance, in addition to the museum policy. Many museum exhibitions are insured through the United States Art and Indemnity Program, a federal program that primarily provides insurance for works of art from international lenders but also includes domestic loans. This program is highly selective, requires the museum to have the highest standards and is awarded only to museums following a rigorous review of all details of the exhibition.

Appraisal: A current, independent appraisal to establish the proper value of the work at the time of the loan will help avoid problems in case of damage to or loss of your work of art. Undervaluing the work can be just as problematic as overvaluation for both you and the museum. Click here for a referral to a qualified appraiser.

Title and Authenticity: If you have concerns regarding authenticity or clear title to your work, consult with a provenance researcher to ensure there are no issues.

Packing and Shipping: Consult with the museum conservator regarding protocol for packing and shipping and whether special travel considerations are necessary. If the work is part of a traveling exhibit, obtain details about each leg of the trip. For highly valued or fragile items, request a courier to accompany these works. A condition report is a must—before lending, following each transit, after the loan and on return.

Storage Facilities: Determine if the art will be held temporarily at a storage facility. If so, obtain details regarding fire protection and security for this location.

Museum Security: Request a facility report from the museum registrar to evaluate the security and protection at the museum. If there is more than one venue for the exhibit, get a facility report for each venue.

Display Conditions: Consider a trip to the museum to discuss the layout of the exhibition and to see where the artwork will be displayed. You might request special display cases for protection from the public or due to the nature of the work. Obtain details regarding the location of the piece in relation to visitor flow.

Labeling and Identification: For privacy and security issues, consider anonymous acknowledgement of your loan versus attribution of ownership.

For more information, contact your agent or broker with your concerns. Or read more about valuable articles coverage.

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